Coronavirus: Malaysia lists six criteria before lifting its movement curbs

A Malaysia army personnel blocks the entrance to a locked down area in Kuala Lumpur, on April 21, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government has yet to decide on whether to extend the movement control order (MCO) when the third phase ends next Tuesday, on April 28.

The Health Ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said the government is still monitoring data on a daily basis to see whether it could safely lift the MCO, which was imposed from March 18.

Tuesday was the 35th day of the stay-at-home orders, with Malaysians allowed to leave their homes only if they are "essential workers" or buying groceries, medicines or food.

"We still haven't made any decision, " he told reporters during his daily press conference at the Health Ministry on Tuesday (April 21).

He listed six criteria that the government will consider before lifting the curbs, which he said have shown hopeful signs of breaking the chain of Covid-19 infections.

- Ensuring tough border control via screening and placing Malaysians returning from abroad under quarantine.

Malaysia has shut its borders, taking back only Malaysians who had been abroad.

- To look back to examine how effective the MCO had been, he said.

"By staying at home, the chances of being infected is low," he explained.

The authorities have become tougher in dealing with MCO violators, including dishing out RM1,000 (S$326) fines and jailing them.

- "Third, is our health system. We should reduce the time taken for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screenings". The PCR screenings allow authorities to expedite the detection of infected individuals.

- "Fourth, we also need to enforce laws to protect those who are at high risk, such as the disabled, chemotherapy patients and those with serious diseases."

- The fifth criterion, said Dr Noor Hisham, is the need for Malaysians to incorporate the new normal in their daily lives - social distancing, regular washing of hands and avoiding public gatherings.

- "Sixth, the health ministry must be able to work together with the community to enforce preventative measures in the community concerned, " he said.

Dr Hisham said: "This is the framework that we have and it needs to be practised by every ministry to see how we can have a soft landing exit strategy."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.