Anwar Demands Covid-19 Open Data, MPs Question CMCO Expansion

Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad wants data on Covid-19 case incidence rate (number of cases per population).

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim urged the federal government to release information on locations of reported Covid-19 cases, as he questioned the rationale of expanding movement restrictions nearly nationwide.

The Port Dickson MP noted that medical experts have questioned the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) rationale for a four-week Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) across the peninsula, except Perlis, Pahang, and Kelantan, from today to December 6. This comes on top of a previous four-week CMCO in the Klang Valley since October 14.

“Is there a need for this to drag on?” Anwar said during a debate on Budget 2021 in Parliament today.

“I call for open data. There must be transparency,” he added, citing the need for information on specific locations of Covid-19 cases.

“When there is open data and transparent information, people will be more confident. Now, many are disputing — why is this dragging on? Little bit, CMCO, little bit, CMCO”.

The opposition leader stressed that Malaysia’s Covid-19 response must balance between health and livelihoods.

Paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, citing a graphic from former Health deputy director-general (public health) Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, pointed out that only two states merited consideration of a Movement Control Order (MCO) — Sabah and Labuan — based on the Covid-19 case incidence rate per 100,000 population from the first week of October to the first week of November.

“The incidence rates in KL, Melaka, Sarawak, Pahang, Johor, Perak, Perlis, Terengganu and Kelantan are virtually negligible in comparison,” said Dr Musa.

He also pointed out that the infectivity rate (number of active Covid-19 cases per 1,000 population) in Selangor, Putrajaya, and Kuala Lumpur were well below the national average of 0.414 under the current CMCO.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reportedly said the CMCO was expanded across seven states in the peninsula because movement restrictions will take time to have effect.

Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PKR) said the way the government presented Covid-19 case figures did not take into account population density. MOH only publishes daily Covid-19 infections in each state, without details on the Covid-19 case incidence rate or the number of cases reported by district or sub-district.

“The National Security Council (NSC) has announced a CMCO across nearly the entire country. Some medical experts have disputed this. A CMCO or MCO may be merited in Sabah or Labuan, but other states should not be locked down fully,” Nik Nazmi told Parliament.

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh (PKR) criticised the closure of schools across the country, even in states not under a CMCO, from today till December 17 that is typically the last day of the school year.

“There are no cases in Pahang. Parents must work, but students are given one-day notice about school closures,” she told the Dewan Rakyat.

As of November 8, Pahang only recorded two active Covid-19 cases state-wide, in Maran. Perak was predominantly “white”, recording zero new Covid-19 cases in 58 sub-districts (mukim) over the past 28 days.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad (Amanah) similarly questioned the rationale behind the CMCO in Selangor and other states like Johor and Perak.

“Was it declared to restrict movements so that problems in this country, including the question of the government not having the majority of Members of Parliament, can be hidden and covered up?”

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