MCO extension to affect medical sector, economy


AN EXTENSION of the Movement Control Order (MCO) poses greater workload on the frontliners in the medical sector and inflicts further economic damage to the country.

The initial duration imposed by the government was 14 days. However, Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last Wednesday announced a two-week extension until April 14 as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N Ganabaskaran said the extension was implemented due to the earlier restriction not producing the desired results.

Frontliners and general practitioners (GPs) in the medical sector will be adversely affected by the extension, he said, due to the rising number of new cases as more patients would require treatment.

“They will have more patients, tougher work and tighter schedules. The GPs may not be able to continue with their regular practice with lesser personal protective equipment (PPE) and being unable to see their non-Covid-19 patients, especially the chronic ones.

“It is all in the public’s hands. If we all follow the rules strictly, especially to stay home and practise social distancing, the government may consider lifting (the restriction),” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently.

The PM had said the extension depended on the improvement by the Health Ministry (MoH) in managing the situation, as well as the cooperation of the remaining participants of the mass Muslim gathering held in Sri Petaling Mosque last month in getting tested.

Putrajaya will provide additional funding amounting to RM600 million to MoH to support its efforts in tackling Covid-19.

Muhyiddin said of the total, RM500 million will be used to purchase medical equipment such as essential intensive care units, extra PPE for general medical staff and laboratory equipment for the screening of Covid-19.

The remaining RM100 million will be utilised for the appointment of 2,000 new staff on a contract basis.

OCBC Treasury Research stated that private consumption has increasingly become a key player in the Malaysian economy and the impact from the existing MCO would show in terms of purchases that are postponed, reduced or removed altogether.

“Elsewhere, the manufacturing sector would also bear the brunt of the virus-fighting measures. Fresh from dealing with supply chain concerns and facing the spectre of lower end-demand from overseas customers, the sector now has to deal with a potentially prolonged period of production shutdown as well.”

The research house revised Malaysia’s GDP growth forecast to 2.5% for 2020, compared to its earlier estimate of 3.7%, considering the combined effect of the pre-existing challenges together with the added hits from domestic viral transmission and sombre external demand environment.