KL to place six Selangor districts under first-tier MCO, avoiding widespread Covid-19 lockdowns

The districts of Petaling, Hulu Langat, Gombak, Klang, Kuala Langat and Sepang will be placed under full MCO from Thursday. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will place six out of nine districts in densely populated Selangor state under the first-tier movement curbs for 12 days from Thursday (May 6), with two Cabinet ministers indicating that there will not be widespread lockdowns despite surging Covid-19 figures.

The government is banning the annual "balik kampung" exodus for the second year, but relaxed home visits for those staying in the same state and federal territory, except for those in the six Selangor districts with high infections.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob at a news conference on Tuesday denied there would be a widespread lockdown as widely speculated on Monday.

He said the Selangor districts to be placed under the full movement control order (MCO) are Petaling, Hulu Langat, Gombak, Klang, Kuala Langat and Sepang.

Inter-district travel is banned for these districts in Selangor, adding to the inter-state travel ban for the whole of Malaysia.

But drawing lessons from its last two MCOs, which caused job losses and badly affected the economy, Malaysia will allow business activities in these six districts to continue, but with shorter hours.

The government took this step as Covid-19 cases surged more than 2,000 a day from the middle of last month.

Cases have breached the 3,000 mark in five of the last seven days, even as the health authorities warned that the country's healthcare system is under strain.

Active cases have more than doubled in the past month, with a record number of patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU).

There were 3,120 cases reported on Tuesday.

At a separate news conference, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government is rolling out a data-driven hot spot identification system to quickly pinpoint trouble spots.

Called Hotspots Identification for Dynamic Engagement (Hide), the system will publicly list premises that are designated as hot spots to warn the public to avoid them and for the owners of such premises to take remedial action.

"At the moment, some of the large hot spots in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are shopping malls, (food and beverage) outlets and bazaars.

"By identifying these hot spots, premises owners can take early intervention steps, such as testing their workers, strengthening the gatekeeping process and also tightening crowd control, " Mr Khairy said.

Mr Khairy, the Coordinating Minister for the country's immunisation programme, said with the use of Hide, the government hopes to avert instituting a third round of lockdowns in the country.

"This is a pre-emptive measure to prevent clusters from emerging," Mr Khairy said.

He said that as at Monday, there have been 1,660 hotspots identified nationwide - ranging from shopping malls to supermarkets to food bazaars.

With Muslim celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri next Thursday, Datuk Seri Ismail has laid out a few ground rules.

Malaysia for the second year banned the annual balik kampung (return to hometowns) exodus as inter-state travel remains banned to curb infections from the big cities to spread to rural area.

But for families and friends living in the same state, up to 20 people can make Hari Raya visits.

But those in the six Selangor MCO districts cannot leave their areas or receive out-of-district visitors. Dine-ins are banned in restaurants in these districts.

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