Malaysia to end strict Covid-19 movement curbs for Selangor, KL

The curbs were first imposed two weeks ago. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - The strictest movement curbs in Malaysia, imposed on most of Selangor state and parts of Kuala Lumpur, were due to be lifted from midnight Friday (July 16), despite the fact that the areas remain at the epicentre of the latest wave of Covid-19 infections.

In a statement on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said: "The special National Security Council meeting has studied presentations from the Health Ministry regarding the current situation and has agreed not to extend the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) in all the subdistricts involved."

The curbs were first imposed two weeks ago after the areas recorded an average of between 600 and 1,900 cases daily.

Since then, infections have continued to climb.

On Friday, Selangor accounted for 5,512 or almost 44 per cent of the 12,541 infections nationwide. The cumulative total of cases in the state stood at 312,606.

KL reported 1,542 cases, bringing the capital's total tally to 95,878.

Malaysia has recorded new daily cases in the five-figure range for four consecutive days, hitting a record of 13,215 infections on Thursday.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said that slightly more than half of the infections detected on Friday were found to be asymptomatic.

Epidemiologist and biostatistician at Universiti Putra Malaysia Associate Professor Malina Osman welcomed the latest government announcement, saying there was hardly any improvement with the implementation of the EMCO.

"The initial suggestion was to have a proper total lockdown, but some sectors were still allowed to open and this contributes to new clusters. The lifting of the EMCO, together with mass vaccinations, will be the best option for Selangor and KL," she told The Straits Times.

"Hopefully, it will help some with their mental health-related issues," she added.

The EMCO, which covered 34 of Selangor's sub-districts and 14 localities in KL, was imposed on July 3. Residents were not allowed to leave their homes except to buy essential items and attend to medical matters, including vaccinations.

Selangor will be returning to Phase One of the four-level National Recovery Plan (NRP), under which most economic sectors are allowed to operate but interdistrict and interstate travel, together with dining in, social gatherings and sports are prohibited.

Under the NRP, the transition of each phase will be guided by three indicators - daily cases, the vaccination rate and the level of utilisation of ICU beds for Covid-19 in hospitals.

As of Thursday, a total of 17.8 per cent of the country's population has received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 38.6 per cent at least one dose.

Mr Sabri on Friday reminded the people not to cross state borders next week during Hari Raya Haji, noting that the number of cases surged after Hari Raya Aidilfitri in May.

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