MCO extended in KL, Selangor, Johor and Penang until March 4

The movement control order will be extended in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, and Penang from Feb 19 until March 4. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has extended its ongoing partial lockdown to combat Covid-19 infections by another two weeks in three key states and the federal capital, Kuala Lumpur, while easing curbs in the rest of the country.

Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Tuesday (Feb 16) said that the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was scheduled to end on Thursday, would be extended until March 4 in Selangor, Johor, Penang and Kuala Lumpur - the country's four biggest economies.

The rest of Malaysia would come under the mid-tier Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), while the smallest state Perlis would be under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).

Mr Ismail Sabri said that the specific protocols concerning the different tiers of lockdown would be released on Thursday.

Malaysia's second iteration of the MCO, implemented on Jan 13, was a much more relaxed version of the first order implemented for three months last year during the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

While the first MCO saw a near total lockdown except for essential services, the current MCO, dubbed MCO 2.0, saw different sectors of the economy reopen progressively.

Under MCO 2.0, restaurants were allowed to cater to limited dine-in customers, while night markets and non-contact sporting activities could continue.

Mr Ismail Sabri said that the National Security Council made the latest decision after assessing a downward trend in daily cases over the past week around the country. But it noted that the number remained high in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang.

The three states and the federal capital collectively is home to over 13 million people - more than a third of Malaysia's 32 million population.

MCO 2.0 initially failed to show results, as the number of cases in the country continued a surge that started after the New Year, reaching an all-time high of 5,728 daily on Jan 30.

However, that number has shown signs of abating in the past week.

Malaysia recorded 2,176 cases on Monday (Feb 15), the lowest daily case tally since Jan 11. The Health Ministry also said that the infectivity rate had dipped to below 1.0, although it was still some way off from the aim of a rate of 0.6 and below.

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