By Xavier Kong
PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has extended the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was due to end on March 31, to April 14, upon the advice of the National Security Council.
“Efforts have to be maintained to stop the spread of Covid-19, until we have truly eradicated the virus by completely breaking the infection chain. This means that the movement of the people must continue to be controlled. The government’s strategy is to find, screen, isolate, and treat Covid-19 patients,” he said.
He also shared that the Ministry of Health will be increasing its capacity, to be able to perform screenings on a larger scale, including performing mass testing, especially in high-risk areas.
He implored Malaysians to ready themselves physically and mentally to #StayAtHome for a longer period of time, until the number of new cases begins to fall. He also called for calm, stating that there will be sufficient supplies, despite the extension of the MCO.
“I know you feel burdened but I don’t have a choice. I have to extend the MCO for your own safety,” he said, adding that the duration of the MCO will be reviewed accordingly, with announcements to follow should it be further extended.
He also mentioned the moratorium on loans of up to six months, along with the restructuring of credit card balances and corporate loans. A more comprehensive stimulus package should also be announced on Friday, which will aim to cover small vendors affected by the pandemic. Zakat centres were also told to be more proactive in aiding the needy, along with those who may not have been listed as such, but are now considered so due to current circumstances.
“I call upon all charity organisations in this country to rise to the occasion by helping the needy regardless of race and religion during this trying moment. The difficulties they are facing are unprecedented. And I believe all of you can do something meaningful to ease their burden,” said Muhyiddin.
Medical staff will also see reinforcements to the frontlines, as volunteers among the private healthcare sector and other volunteer bodies will be mobilised to allow frontline medical staff to take a break.
According to the PM’s announcement, more than 95% of Malaysians have adhered to the MCO, barring “several small incidents here and there.” Police and armed forces personnel have been ordered to take firm action, including closing public spaces that are still seeing many visitors, as well as detaining individuals resisting the MCO.
“This is necessary to ensure the MCO is adhered to and is effective in achieving its aim, which is to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. I would like to remind you that, in the event the order is ignored, the MCO will bring no positive effects and all of the effort so far would have been wasted,” said Muhyiddin.
He called for self-awareness and patience among Malaysians, in the face of adversity.
As of 12pm, the number of positive cases in Malaysia has risen to 1,796, more than double the 673 cases from a week ago. There is an increase of 172 cases just today, with deaths coming in at a total of 17, including a doctor.
Towards this, the Ministry of Health has readied 3,585 beds in 34 hospitals around the country to receive Covid-19 patients. At this time, 34% of bed capacity is in use. Several locations have also been identified as temporary isolation and quarantine areas should it be necessary. - March 25, 2020