KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 – The prime minister will probably not announce tonight the status of the Movement Control Order (MCO), as health authorities are still reviewing the Covid-19 epidemiological trend.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told a media briefing today that he met with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin this morning to explain the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) six conditions in lifting the partial lockdown that is scheduled to end next Tuesday.
“We need to compile all the six indicators before we can advise the prime minister accordingly to make a decision on whether to continue the MCO, or whether there’ll be a baby steps exit strategy, or as you call it, a soft landing for our exit strategy. This is something that we will discuss in the next few days,” he said.
When asked if this has not been discussed yet, Dr Noor Hisham answered: “We discussed the principles, but now we need the facts and science behind it before we can table concrete evidence to show whether we need to extend [the MCO] or not.”
MOH’s six criteria in lifting the nationwide partial lockdown are border controls to prevent imported Covid-19 cases; movement control, like banning mass gatherings; a strong health care system with sufficient beds and ventilators; protection of the vulnerable, like senior citizens, disabled people, cancer patients, and those with underlying health conditions; new behaviours practiced by the people, like social distancing and frequent hand-washing; and controlling Covid-19 clusters through community preventive measures.
Muhyiddin is scheduled for an address to the nation at 8.15pm today ahead of the Ramadan fasting month. The third MCO is scheduled to end on April 28.
Dr Noor Hisham stressed that even if the MCO is lifted, international travel restrictions may still be kept.
“In fact, we need to strengthen border control,” he said, pointing out that Covid-19 cases have been reported in more than 180 countries.
He also highlighted the fact that out of 71 new Covid-19 cases reported today, only 52 were local transmissions, as 19 were imported cases. Out of the 52 local transmissions, 22 patients were foreign workers from the Selangor Mansion here, which is currently under an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).
“When we ease the MCO, movement control, we need to really look into the local transmission as well,” the Health DG said, adding that the trend of daily Covid-19 cases and infection rate (R0) would be reviewed as well in deciding on the partial lockdown.
With today’s 71 new Covid-19 cases, Malaysia has reported a straight week of daily increases in the double-digits.
Separately, the Health DG announced that a total of 90 Covid-19 patients have recovered as at 12pm today, bringing the total number of cases that have been allowed to go home to 3,542 cases (63.2 per cent of total cases).
“As at April 23, 2020, 12pm, 71 new cases have been reported. This brings the total number of positive cases in Malaysia to 5,603 cases,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
“Therefore, the number of active cases is 1,966.”
A total of 42 Covid-19 patients are currently in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and from this number, 21 need ventilator support.
MOH Nurse Dies From Covid-19
Two new deaths were reported, bringing the total death toll to 95.
“The 94th death (Patient 3,871) is a 32-year-old female Malaysian citizen with a history of high blood pressure. She is an MOH medical worker, and had a history of close contact to Patient 3,662 (related to the Muar specialist hospital cluster),” added the Health DG.
CodeBlue learned that Patient 3,871 was a staff nurse from the Sultanah Fatimah specialist hospital in Muar, Johor.
“The 95th death (Patient 4129) is a 67-year-old male Malaysian citizen who had a background of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, as well as kidney problems. He had close contact with Patient 1,575 (related to PUI Bali cluster),” said Dr Noor Hisham.
As of today, 325 MOH staff have been found to be Covid-19 positive, which translates to 5.8 per cent of total positive cases in Malaysia. Out of 325, a total of 185 patients have recovered, 137 are undergoing treatment in hospitals, and three have died.
The total cases comprise 77 medical officers, 66 nurses, 34 housemen, 23 specialists, and 21 assistant medical officers. The remaining 104 cases are staff of other health services.