In a special address earlier today, Malaysian prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the Government has decided that all gatherings including international conferences, sports, social and religious events must be postponed or cancelled until 30 April. The decision will be re-evaluated once the COVID-19 pandemic situation improves.
On Thursday, the Government decided to ban all public gatherings of over 250 people in a bid to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease. It said it will decide on whether to delay or cancel the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2020 summit slated to be hosted in November. Besides, it will introduce standard operating procedures (SOP) for the prevention of COVID-19 in all types of schools.
In the early stages, there were only 22 confirmed cases in the country and this involved mostly foreign nationals and Malaysians who returned from Wuhan, China and Malaysians who visited countries affected by the coronavirus.
While various efforts have been implemented to control the spread of the disease, there is still a rise in cases. At this time, the second wave of COVID-19 cases has reached 175. On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic.
Up till today, the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country has stemmed from two major clusters. According to current trends, the spread of the pandemic is expected to continue for some time, said the prime minister.
To prepare for the worst, the Government will continue to increase screening at all international entry points, impose travel restrictions on virus-affected countries and prepare special access for visitors from affected countries. Malaysia has imposed travel restrictions on Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang in China; Hokkaido in Japan; South Korea; Iran; Italy; and most recent, Denmark. Malaysians are advised not to travel to affected countries.
Govt stepping up efforts
Moreover, the Government is increasing the number of hospitals able to deal with COVID-19 cases. To date, there are 26 government hospital and the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre that have the capability to handle COVID-19 cases.
It is also collaborating with private hospitals, hospitals under the Defence Ministry and university hospitals as preparation to treat more cases. That aside, there are 57 government hospitals and 170 medical clinics nationwide that conduct COVID-19 screening.
Adding to that, the Government has identified Sungai Buloh Hospital and a hospital in each state as specialist hospitals to treat COVID-19 cases.
Muhyiddin added that the Government is also increasing screening of COVID-19. This includes 22 labs under the Health Ministry and other labs under the Defence as well as Agriculture and Food Industry ministries.
He acknowledged the economic impact from the coronavirus outbreak, with tourism, SMEs, and transport industries the hardest hit. It is estimated that the overall tourism sector starting from January until February 2020 has suffered losses of around MYR3.37 billion. The Government estimates the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to dip between 0.8 to 1.2 percent, or MYR10.8 billion to MYR17.3 billion.
He said that the Government will ensure that the 2020 Economic Stimulus Package will be implemented expeditiously to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Source: Muhyiddin Yassin Facebook