KUALA LUMPUR, May 7— The government has merely restarted the economy with the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), health authorities said, highlighting further monitoring of the Covid-19 epidemic before Malaysia can fully end a lockdown.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah clarified that while the country has met a few of the six criteria for a country to end a lockdown, as set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has yet to gather enough data to discuss the nation’s Covid-19 exit strategy.
“We have not entered the exit strategy phase yet; we have only implemented just one relaxation and that is restarting our economy sector,” said Dr Noor Hisham at a press conference today.
“The control is still tightened as well as other actions taken in accordance with the WHO exit strategy, but we have not yet entered the exit strategy phase. We are still in CMCO. ”
MOH looks to monitor the Covid-19 status in the nation for two weeks with the implementation of CMCO and hopes to continue the nation’s success in controlling the spread of coronavirus, before movement restrictions can be further relaxed.
The government implemented the CMCO from May 4 until May 12, allowing most businesses to resume full operations and freedom of movement for individuals. But border controls are maintained to keep out foreign visitors, while interstate travel remains banned ahead of the Hari Raya festive season.
“We hope that we can monitor for two weeks and have control. If we get to control the situation, where new cases are still in the double digits and continue to decrease, then we will begin to open up more sectors little by little,” explained Dr Noor Hisham.
MOH today reported 39 new Covid-19 cases, including one imported case, which means that all 38 are local transmissions, including eight from Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) areas. Community transmissions are at 30 today.
Health authorities have largely reported new coronavirus infections below 100 each day since April 17, but the double-digit streak was broken on May 2 and 3, with 105 and 122 new cases reported respectively.
When asked about former Health deputy director-general Dr Christopher Lee’s observation that Covid-19 cases detected through community surveillance rose by 40 in 10 days, Dr Noor Hisham said coronavirus infections found among flu-like and pneumonia-like cases had risen in the early stage, but have fallen since last week.
“If we can reduce the cases within ILI (influenza-like illness) and SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) surveillance, it means we have control within the community.”
Dr Noor Hisham also said that MOH will increase surveillance at hospitals and clinics to monitor ILI and SARI cases for coronavirus infections, by adding more public health clinics for such screenings with 50,000 incoming rapid antigen tests.
He added that MOH has also run Covid-19 tests on 7,225 emergency and semi-emergency cases that need surgery, with only five testing positive, which means the test positivity rate is less than 0.1 per cent.
“We’re still doing screening and testing on each patient who will enter the operation theatre.”