KUALA LUMPUR: Industries and individuals in Malaysia have been urged to comply strictly with the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) as a reciprocal gesture to the government's decision of allowing most businesses to remain operational during lockdown.
In a televised address on Thursday (Feb 4), Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the government has listened to the views of the people by not shutting down the economy during the movement control order (MCO) period.
"So please reciprocate this gesture by complying strictly with the SOPs so that we can ensure business and trade will continue to operate while at the same time, help break the chain of COVID-19 transmissions at the workplace and in the community," he said.
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Last month, the MCO was reinstated in all states except Sarawak until Feb 18 to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
Malaysia on Thursday reported 4,571 new COVID-19 cases, raising its total number of infections to 231,483.
The health ministry also reported an additional 17 deaths, bringing total fatalities from the virus to 826.
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In his Thursday address, Mr Muhyiddin said latest data shows that 59 per cent of COVID-19 infections happened at workplaces.
He emphasised the need to comply with SOPs at factories, construction areas, workers' accommodation and workplaces, as many infections during the third wave took place in these areas.
The prime minister said a total lockdown with almost all economic sectors shut would be most effective in breaking the COVID-19 infection chain, but this would also bring dire consequences to the country’s economy.
Yet at the same time, if people's movement was not controlled, the exponential increase in new COVID-19 cases would cripple the public healthcare system, he said.
“Hence in this pandemic situation, the government needs to find a balanced method, by ensuring people’s economic lives are guaranteed, and people’s lives continue to be protected,” he said, referring to the government's decision of allowing essential economic sectors to remain functional with strict SOPs in place.
Mr Muhyiddin added that the government would not hesitate to take strict action on any parties who had violated regulations or SOPs in force.
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The Emergency Management Technical Committee was examining provisions in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act to be amended to allow for heavier and swifter enforcement actions, he added.
These included immediate closure for business premises which do not heed regulations, higher fines for repeat offenders or those who had been given warnings, as well as disciplinary action against civil servants who violated the work from home policy.
HOLDING GENERAL ELECTION ONCE SAFE
On the state of emergency effective from Jan 11 to Aug 1, Mr Muhyiddin said in his Thursday address that the proclamation by the king has no purpose other than to curb the transmission of COVID-19 more effectively and to protect the lives of the people.
"I wish to repeat my commitment that I will advise the king to dissolve the parliament once the spread of COVID-19 has receded, and it is safe to hold elections," he said.
Mr Muhyiddin called on his colleagues from both the government and opposition to link arms and combine efforts to fight the pandemic without taking political differences into account.
The prime minister is scheduled to arrive in Indonesia later on Thursday for his first official trip abroad since taking over the prime minister's post last year.