Coronavirus: Malaysia to tighten health protocols as new cases rise again

A total of 21 new Covid-19 cases were reported on July 24, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government will tighten its health protocols again following the resurgence of new coronavirus cases in the past week after lockdown procedures were relaxed, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob on Saturday (July 25).

The South-east Asian country is now into what it calls the Recovery Movement Control Order (MCO), with most businesses allowed to operate if they follow health measures such as recording the temperatures of those entering malls, offices and shops.

A decision will be made on Sunday over what measures would be adopted by the government as standard operating procedures, Datuk Seri Ismail told a media briefing, as quoted by Bernama news agency.

"The technical committee will meet on Sunday to work on the finer details of the SOP and table it at the ministerial meeting on Monday," he said.

Malaysia implemented the MCO on March 18, locking down much of the country for more than three months as it tried to reduce the number of new daily cases, especially after a super-spreader event involving a mass gathering by the Tabligh missionary group at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.

During the MCO, most people were allowed to leave their homes only to buy groceries, food or medicine, and only essential workers such as hospital and supermarket workers were allowed to leave their homes daily.

Some businesses were allowed to reopen from May 4 under what it called Conditional MCO, as new cases began to taper down.

From June 10, under the Recovery MCO, almost all social, educational, religious, business, economic sectors were allowed to resume operations in stages.

Travel between Malaysia's 13 states was also allowed to resume.

But new daily cases have been on the rise again, especially in the past week.

The government from Friday began to again place those who returned from abroad in government-designated quarantine centres including hotels for 14 days, amid reports of breaches of those told to self-quarantine at home.

A total of 23 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Saturday, against 21 on Friday, nine on Thursday, and 16 on Wednesday.

The cumulative tally of infections in the country stands at 8,884. There were no new fatalities, with the death toll remaining at 123.

The Health Ministry had proudly announced just over three weeks ago, on July 1, that the country had recorded zero cases of local transmissions for the first time since March, and had only one new case that was imported.

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