Day 8, Movement Control Order. In a special public address today, Malaysian prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin officially announced the extension of the Government’s Movement Control Order (MCO), until 14 April 2020. This is a two-week extension from the original order that was scheduled to end on 31 March.
The prime minister revealed that the police had reported 95 percent of the people adhering to the MCO—with roads clear of traffic, shopping malls and recreational centres closed and with people obeying the order to stay home.
However, there have been isolated incidents. The police with the assistance of the army have taken stern action against individuals who have remained defiant and have closed public places that are still operating.
He reminded the public that the stern action by the authorities is to ensure that the MCO meets its objectives, which is to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
He thanked the people who have obeyed the rules, “You follow my instruction. You know that this is good for you, your family and the people around you. Your awareness and sincerity in abiding by the rules imposed by the government during this Movement Control Order period is highly commendable.“
Acknowledging the various challenges that the people are facing fenced up at home, he also commended those who have been creative in these trying times. On social media channels like Facebook, he’s seen people exercising at home, communicating with co-workers on Skype. The prime minister himself uses FaceTime to chat with his grandchild.
In summary, he said that people have the ability to adapt in adversity.
“When the going gets tough, only the tough gets going.”
He warned that the COVID-19 situation could get worse. It’s a disease that we have not faced before. It has changed people’s lives in an instant as it rapidly spreads across the world.
Keep calm and don’t panic
“Please stay calm and don’t panic. Even though we have extended the Movement Control Order, you don’t have to unnecessarily stock up on food because the supply is sufficient. I assure you that food is enough for everybody.”
“I know you feel burdened but I don’t have a choice. I have to extend the Movement Control Order for your own safety,” the prime minister continued.
He added that the MCO will be reviewed from time to time. If there is a necessity for it to be extended, there will be an official announcement.
“Just be mentally and physically prepared to stay at home for a reasonably longer period of time.”
Flattening the curve
The MCO aims to “flatten the curve” and to some extent the since the order has been enforced, infection rates have plateaued in the past few days. However, the PM said that we cannot be satisfied with the results until reported cases are zero.
This means that the people’s movement must continue to be restricted while the government continues to search, screen, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients.
To that end, the Health Ministry plans to increase capacity to do COVID-19 screening at a larger scale. This includes mass testing primarily at high risk areas.
COVID-19 situation report
To date, there have been 422,829 infections around the world, resulting in 18,907 fatalities. The spread the pandemic has escalated in the US and Europe, now new epicentres of the disease.
In Malaysia, since the first COVID-19 case was reported until today (as of 12PM, 25 March), there have been 1,796 reported cases, with 172 new cases reported today. Seven days ago, the total number was 673. This is a spike of more than 100 percent in just a week. Sadly, there have been 17 deaths from the disease in Malaysia, including a doctor.
The Government anticipates new cases to arise in the short term. Therefore, the Health Ministry has been preparing for what’s to come including readying 3,585 beds in 34 hospitals nationwide for COVID-19 patients.
At this point, available hospital bed capacity for COVID-19 lies at 66 percent. In the event that COVID-19 cases exceed available capacity, several places have been identified as temporary isolation and quarantine locations.
Header image: Snapshot from NST TV