Malaysia may again tighten COVID-19 restrictions after May 18 if cases surge: Health ministry

Malaysia may again tighten COVID-19 restrictions after May 18 if cases surge: Health ministry

37 new COVID-19 cases and 2 more deaths were announced on Wednesday.

Medical workers wearing protective suits pass by barbed wire at the red zone under enhanced lockdow
FILE PHOTO: Medical workers wearing protective suits pass by barbed wire at the red zone under enhanced lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government may again tighten the movement control order (MCO) after May 18, if there is a surge in the number of new COVID-19 cases, said the Health Ministry on Wednesday (May 13).

In a press conference, the health ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah noted that May 18 would mark the end of the 14-day incubation period, since the implementation of the conditional MCO on May 4. 

“We are now observing the situation day-to-day. We would make a decision in time to come. 

“We have seen the outcome of the MCO, which is the flattening of the curve. As for the conditional MCO, we have not seen the outcome yet. The outcome will start (to be clearer) on May 18," he said.

READ: Malaysia to open 'almost all' economic sectors from May 4 with health protocols in place, says PM Muhyiddin

As per the conditional MCO which was announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on May 1, almost all economic sectors were allowed to operate at full capacity, with strict standard operating procedures, starting May 4.

The prime minister's decision to ease restrictions drew criticism, including from former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad, who said it was too soon. The latter also said that there may be another wave of cases as a result. 

Dr Noor Hisham said on Wednesday: “If (the number of) cases are still within our control, (we) can open up more sectors. But if the cases continue to increase, then we have to reverse our decision.” 

He stressed that it was now up to the public to ensure a favourable outcome. 

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shah Alam
A member of medical staff takes a swab from a man during a drive-thru of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, at a makeshift centre in Shah Alam, Malaysia April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Additionally, Dr Noor Hisham said that as of Wednesday, 58 more people have recovered from COVID-19 bringing the total number to recoveries to 5,281. 

He also announced that there were 37 new cases, of which 21 were foreign nationals working in Malaysia. 

“The addition of the 37 cases brings the total number to test positive for COVID-19 to 6,779. However the number of active cases is at 1,387,” he said. 

The director-general also said there were two new deaths - that of a 30-year old and a 90-year old. This brought the cumulative number of fatalities to 111. 

READ: Malaysia bars citizens from going overseas, foreigners from entering country for 2 weeks to curb COVID-19 spread,says PM Muhyiddin

Malaysia announced its first three COVID-19 cases on Jan 25, after three Chinese nationals tested positive. 

Following an increase of daily cases to three digits, Malaysians were put under the MCO starting Mar 18 to control the surge of cases and flatten the curve. 

Under the MCO, only essential services were allowed to operate and police roadblocks were placed around the country to ensure public compliance.

Police officers check vehicles at a roadblock to enforce movement control order due to the spread o
Police officers check vehicles at a roadblock to enforce movement control order due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

In outlining the rationale for the conditional MCO starting May 4, Mr Muhyiddin said that Malaysia's economy has taken a hard hit due to the restrictions, with many Malaysians losing their livelihoods. 

The MCO is now slated to end on Jun 9. 

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Source: CNA/kd

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