KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — The government may prolong the national partial shutdown by another two weeks or more if the Covid-19 outbreak cannot be contained, Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
The prime minister said he imposed the Movement Control Order for two weeks from today until March 31 because the novel coronavirus’ incubation period is about a fortnight, noting that there are cases where symptoms only emerge after that.
“The government hopes that after two weeks, those with symptoms are successfully isolated for treatment, making Malaysia free of Covid-19,” Muhyiddin said in a national address on television.
“If in these two weeks, we haven’t fully succeeded, the government may be forced to extend the Control Order, maybe by another two weeks, or even longer than that.
“Therefore, it is very important for all of us to isolate ourselves and our families to prevent exposure to the Covid-19 virus by staying at home.”
Muhyiddin pleaded with Malaysians to “stay put where you are”, amid reports of people crowding bus stations and congesting roads with vehicles moving north, south, and east to return to their hometowns.
“We want to break the chain of infection of this virus.”
He also urged Malaysians to cancel their wedding plans during the partial shutdown and to avoid eating out. Media reports showed many people continuing to dine outside today on the first day of the partial shutdown.
“So please, I plead again, stay quietly at home. Stay at home and protect your family and yourself.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most estimates of the incubation period for Covid-19 — or the time between catching the virus and showing symptoms — range from one to 14 days, with the median around five days.
Health authorities reported 117 new coronavirus infections today, totalling 790 cases in Malaysia. Malaysia has been reporting new infections numbering over 100 each day since Sunday when 190 new cases were reported then, 125 on Monday, and 120 yesterday. Majority of the Covid-19 cases are linked to a recent tabligh gathering at the Sri Petaling mosque here.