KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malaysian pharmaceutical suppliers today asked the government if they would be forced to close for two weeks under the Movement Control Order amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS) executive director Dr Choe Tong Seng said according to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement last night, health businesses deemed as essential services that will remain open are only defined as pharmacies and hospitals.
However, he said local pharmaceutical suppliers that supply medicines and import personal protective equipment (PPE), like face masks and medical gowns, to clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies across the public and private sectors must be able to continue operating from March 18 to 31 during the movement restriction period.
“If businesses don’t want to open up, that’s up to them, but we strongly recommend they play their role as responsible corporate citizens. It’s a call for us to bear this burden together,” Dr Choe told CodeBlue.
Dr Choe told MAPS members in an email that pharmaceutical importers, wholesalers, and distributors are part of the supply chain to ensure medical facilities are fully stocked.
“As a stakeholder and collaborator in the health care sector, as well as a responsible corporate citizen, we need to be effective and productive partners to the Country, Ministry of Health and all health care providers and carers during this period of time.
“MAPS suggests that you keep your business running with the relevant resources and in the most efficient manner, to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply chain,” read the email as sighted by CodeBlue.
MAPS also urged local manufacturers to stop exporting face masks, even as private clinics and hospitals have complained about a shortage of PPE.
Dr Choe said Malaysian pharmaceutical suppliers supply drugs like antivirals, which may be used to treat the novel coronavirus, as well as supplements like Vitamin C that are in high demand.
“Certain products like panadol tablets, all are running out because people are taking for their fever.”
Muhyiddin yesterday announced that the government would impose a Movement Control Order from tomorrow until the end of the month to curb the Covid-19 outbreak that has surpassed 500 cases in Malaysia.
All places of worship and business premises, except for markets and grocery stores selling daily necessities, will be closed. All government and private premises will also be shuttered, except those providing essential services, like water, electricity, communications, security, defence, and health care.
Mass gatherings will be banned, including religious, sports, social and cultural activities. All Malaysians will also be prohibited from traveling overseas during this period, while tourists and foreigners will not be allowed entry into Malaysia.