KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Areas reporting new Covid-19 outbreaks will be put under an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) even after the Malaysian economy reopens on May 4, health authorities said.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) also said, unlike other countries that reopened their borders upon easing lockdowns, Malaysia’s borders would remain closed under what was dubbed as the Conditional MCO, while Malaysians returning home would be put under compulsory quarantine for 14 days.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also said Malaysia has achieved the objective of the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was imposed since March 18, by flattening the Covid-19 epidemiological curve in the country, which means that cases are controlled so that they do not overwhelm the health care system.
He pointed out that usage of beds for Covid-19 patients was less than 30 per cent as of today, while those in intensive care units (ICU) have dropped to 37, including 14 on ventilator support. Malaysia has 1,054 available ventilators for coronavirus patients.
“Now, the next stage is to manage the virus in our community,” he told a press conference.
“We make sure every sector has to comply with the SOP (standard operating procedures). We sat down with every sector and we advised them to come up with an SOP. The SOP is very clear. What’s important is to comply with the SOP. If they don’t, we’ll close the locality and premise.
“If there’s an outbreak or case detected in the locality or premise, we’ll continue to take public health action, part of it is EMCO. We lock down the area, screen everyone, those positive are admitted to hospital, negative are quarantined.”
The Health DG also noted that Covid-19 cases detected in MOH’s surveillance of influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections in the community have declined compared to the first week of April.
“We’re going to increase surveillance in the whole country and make sure we can contain the virus,” Dr Noor Hisham said, without specifying if a second wave of Covid-19 cases would occur after the nationwide lockdown is eased on May 4.
He announced that MOH’s testing capacity has increased to 16,635 tests daily, with 14,544 samples tested yesterday.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced earlier today that most Malaysian business sectors would be reopened three days later on May 4, subject to health guidelines on social distancing, while people would be allowed to resume their social lives, but schools and educational institutions would remain closed. Activities related to certain business sectors that involve close contact among people would also remain prohibited, like cinemas, weddings, and gyms.
Mass gatherings also would still be prohibited, including religious gatherings at places of worship, while interstate travel would not be allowed, including during Hari Raya celebrations.
The prime minister’s announcement came after informal workers lost their source of income during the six-week lockdown and business groups highlighted retrenchments of possibly up to two million people, as various businesses like hotels and media companies shuttered.
MOH today reported 69 new Covid-19 cases, including 12 imported cases, which means that 57 are local transmissions. The total number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are 6,071. One new death was reported today, leading to a total of 103 fatalities from Covid-19 as of today.