KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday (April 10) said he is extending the country's movement curbs by another two weeks, as the government continues its effort to reduce infections caused by the coronavirus.
In a speech telecast live on national television, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said the Movement Control Order (MCO) will be extended from April 15 to April 28 based on the feedback from the Health Ministry and medical experts.
"The MCO has helped healthcare workers contain the spread of the infection... But we need to be ready to face this situation for quite a while, it may go on for a few more months before we can really make sure that the spread has been 100 per cent curbed," he said.
"Let me remind you that the war on Covid-19 is not yet over. The fight is still on. We are doing well so far, so just uplift your spirit and continue to fight. If we persevere, insyaAllah (God willing) we will win," he said.
The MCO is into its 24th day on Friday, with most Malaysians staying at home unless they need to buy groceries, medicine or food, or to conduct essential services.
The MCO started on March 18 and was initially for a period of two weeks to March 31, but was extended by two weeks to April 14.
On Friday, the country reported 4,346 confirmed cases and 70 deaths from the coronavirus.
However, it recorded more recoveries than new Covid-19 cases for three days in a row, with 222 patients discharged on Friday, bringing the tally to 1,830 or 42.1 per cent from the total.
Noting how badly the economy has been hit following the implementation of the MCO, Mr Muhyiddin said the government has agreed to allow several economic sectors to operate in stages.
"I would like to stress that the reopening of several sectors does not mean we are loosening the MCO... If there is a manufacturer, factory or company that violated the rules, the government will withdraw its permission," he said.
The International Trade and Industry Ministry said later that these sectors will be allowed to reopen: barber shops, car maintenance, laundry services - but not self-service outlets - hardware shops, electrical and electronic shops, along with optometrists.
Companies involved in machinery and equipment services, aerospace, professional and technical services including research and development could also reopen, as could those in construction related services. They will first have to apply for exemptions from the MCO at the website of the trade ministry.
The government's move comes after a survey carried out by the Statistics Department revealed that the pandemic outbreak has crippled most of Malaysia's economy, hitting those without a fixed salary the hardest.
The survey, which was carried out during the MCO, showed that nearly half of self-employed workers and a quarter of employers have gone without any income.
Among the 53.4 per cent of self-employed Malaysians who said they still had jobs, 94.8 per cent suffered income losses, with more than a third of them experiencing a cut of over 90 per cent.
As social distancing measures are likely to stay at least for the next few months, the premier also urged Malaysians to adapt to a "new normal" as they can no longer do what they have been accustomed to, like shaking hands.
"Maybe after this, we will just bow our head as a sign of respect. And this is the new normal," he said.
"With the upcoming Ramadan, we can no longer visit the bazaars to buy food to break fast. And we will also not be able to hold tarawih prayers at the mosques. So, perform your tarawih prayers at home with family," he added.