KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will tighten the current movement control order (MCO) with stricter restrictions on its economic and social sectors, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Friday (May 21).
A statement was issued following a National Security Council meeting, where the health ministry gave a presentation on the COVID-19 situation in the country, including the infection rate and the health capacity of each state.
"The meeting unanimously agreed to tighten the current implementation of MCO 3.0 with additional curbs that are stricter on the economic and social sectors," the statement said.
"Details of the additional restrictions will be announced in a press conference by senior minister for defence on May 22," it added.
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PMO noted that even with the strict measures under MCO 3.0, community cases continued to rise and the emergence of new variants have delayed efforts to flatten the infection curve.
State governments were involved in Friday's meeting to take into account the current situation in the respective states, it added.
The PMO announcement came as the country was battling a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and record high deaths. Friday's 6,493 new COVID-19 cases brought the national total to 498,785.
Malaysia first imposed a nationwide lockdown in March last year with strict travel and movement restrictions, and the economy ground to a halt.
A series of financial packages and measures, including loan moratorium, were rolled out to help jump-start the economy.
The restrictions were gradually eased, with targeted measures imposed in localities with high cases.
However, all states except for Sarawak were placed under MCO again in February as the country consistently reported four-digit daily increases in COVID-19 cases.
A nationwide MCO was later reimposed in May. All economic sectors were allowed to operate, but there have been calls for the return of stricter lockdown measures when cases continued to climb.