Malaysia's health chief laments mass movement ahead of Covid-19 lockdown

Social media users reported long queues of people grocery shopping. PHOTO: SJHSEOMATES/TWITTER

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's health director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, took to social media to lament the mass movement of Malaysians just before the full movement control order (MCO) lockdown comes into effect next week.

"Where are you headed this weekend? Mass movement is still happening despite interstate and inter-district travel restrictions," he said in a Facebook post on Saturday (May 29).

His post was accompanied by several screengrabs showing massive lines of cars and other vehicles choking highway toll plazas in Gombak and Sungai Besi.

Dr Noor Hisham expressed worries that such mass movement of people would not help efforts in preventing the further spread of the coronavirus.

Gombak police department Assistant Commander Arifai Tarawe said that almost all motorists who went through the roadblock near the Gombak toll plaza on Saturday morning had valid reasons and permission for inter-state travel.

He added that the number of vehicles was at its peak between 9am and noon, causing a 1km to 2km crawl near the Gombak toll plaza.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin told reporters that more policemen will be on duty to ensure the total lockdown will be adhered to.

He said that 55,000 policemen will now be deployed to man roadblocks as well as to ensure standard operating procedure compliance, up from the 37,000 currently on duty.

Mr Hamzah also said the number of roadblocks will be upped to about 800 nationwide. There are currently around 600 existing roadblocks.

The nation has seen record numbers of Covid-19 daily infections for five straight days.

Malaysia's Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi has also appealed for people to stop panic buying, which risks disruption in the supply of items at the shops.

Mr Nanta said that his officers will continue to monitor the situation while reiterating assurances of adequate supplies during the lockdown.

His advice comes in the wake of reports of panic buying following the government's announcement of a two-week full MCO lockdown to begin on June 1.

On Saturday, social media users reported long queues of people grocery shopping and stocking up ahead of the total lockdown that will last at least until June 14.

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