KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia may extend the restricted movement order by "maybe another two weeks or even longer" if the current measures fail to contain the spread of COVID-19, said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Wednesday (Mar 18).
He urged Malaysians to just stay at home during the two-week control order, which is enforced from Wednesday until Mar 31, to break the chain of infection.
“By doing so, you are protected from COVID-19 infection and the outbreak can hopefully be contained. This is the actual purpose of the restricted movement order issued by the government,” he said in a televised address.
Mr Muhyiddin warned that if current measures fail to curb the spread of the virus, "the government may be forced to extend the restricted movement order period by maybe another two weeks or even longer."
“Therefore it is important for us to isolate ourselves and our families from being exposed to the virus, by simply staying at home, so please stay at home,” he said.
On Monday night, Mr Muhyiddin announced that a restricted movement order will be put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Malaysians are barred from travelling overseas for two weeks, while visitors are not allowed to enter the country. Schools and non-essential businesses will also be closed.
On Wednesday, Malaysia’s COVID-19 tally stood at 790, the hardest hit country in Southeast Asia.
About two-thirds of the cases have been traced to a religious event at a mosque in Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, which was attended by 16,000 people.
Two deaths were reported on Tuesday, including a man who was present at this mass gathering.
In his Wednesday address, Mr Muhyiddin explained that the movement control order was for two weeks because that is the incubation period of COVID-19.
“There were cases where symptoms only emerged after 14 days.
“So the government hopes that at the end of this two-week period, those with symptoms will be successfully isolated and given treatment, thus ending the streak of infections in Malaysia, making the country virus-free,” he said.
He stressed that the two-week period is not for Malaysians to return to their hometown, attend functions, go shopping, stroll in the park or take a vacation.
"No. The purpose is for you to stay at home. Stay at home and protect yourself and your family."
Mr Muhyiddin said he has a huge responsibility to handle the crisis, but he cannot do this on his own.
"Just stay at home. Spend time with your children, wife and family members. No need to go out anywhere," he said.