This is the question on everyone’s minds as prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is set to make a special address to the nation on Sunday. The current phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) ends on 12 May 2020.
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Judging from the hashtags on his Facebook post, I anticipate the MCO to be extended with further relaxation of social and economic activities. With MCO 5, the government has put its trust on the people—to practice self-discipline.
There’s notably less enforcement by the authorities as people go about their daily business and activities.
While most business activities and economic sectors are operating, those that involve close contact such as barbershops and beauty salons, as well as involve crowds are still prohibited.
Certain sports like jogging, tennis, and golf are permitted, while contact sports such as football are not.
The 10km radius limit has also been lifted, with up to four family members now allowed to travel together in a vehicle.
Interstate travel, however, is only allowed between 7-10 May, limited to stranded city folk who need to return to their homes.
Is COVID-19 under control?
The sole purpose of the MCO is to help flatten the curve for the healthcare system not to be overwhelmed by the disease. It’s impossible for cases in the country to be zero, at least not in the near term.
The health director-general Dr Noor Hashim explained previously that for the MCO to be lifted, the country needs to fulfil six criteria. One of the criteria is reducing the number of daily cases to a single digit.
The health ministry estimates that the number of daily cases could drop to less than 10 cases per day as early as the first week of May.
Based on current trends, the MCO has indeed helped mitigate COVID-19 cases, with daily active cases now in the low double digits. Malaysia continues to demonstrate an impressive recovery rate—nearly 75 per cent of cases have recovered and discharged. This is from a total of 6,589 cases to date. The nation’s COVID-19 mortality rate is 1.64 per cent, below the global average. A total of 108 patients have succumbed to the disease thus far.
Granted, these are encouraging results. However, it would be a mistake to be complacent. With no vaccine in sight, COVID-19 could be lingering for some time to come.
We will need to accept that social distancing, staying home, wearing a face mask, and arming ourselves with hand sanitisers are the “new normal.” We need to accept that we have to limit our social gatherings, religious events, sports activities, festivities, and work-related congregations.
This is the way we live now, and likely, for the foreseeable future.
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