Malaysia extends MCO to May 12

PM does not rule out the possibility of another extension, but stresses that gradual relaxation measures will have very clear and strict guidelines

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIA has not ruled out the possibility of extending the Movement Control Order (MCO) until the end of next month as authorities continue to limit human movements for another 14 days until May 12.

The extension of the MCO for the third time came despite the country’s success in taming the coronavirus pandemic with infected cases falling into double-digit figures in the last five days. An additional extension after May 12 will cocoon millions of Muslims during the Aidilfitri, the biggest religious celebration expected on May 24.

The government, however, relaxed the movement of university students, estimated at 100,000, who have been holed up in various campuses. But the movement will be under strict supervision, it said.

Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the number of new Covid-19 cases have dropped significantly from hundreds of daily cases at the beginning of the MCO into the tens.

“InsyaAllah, we can reduce the new cases of Covid-19 to a minimum level and completely break the chain of the outbreak with the hard work of our frontliners and all of your disciplines in adhering to the MCO.

“We have not (yet) won the war against Covid-19, but I am sure we will win this war,” Muhyiddin said in a televised national address last night.

The PM stressed that gradual relaxation measures will be introduced, but under very clear and strict guidelines.

“I do not rule out the possibility that the MCO will be extended later. This means you may not be celebrating Hari Raya in hometown villages.

“You will not be able to go to work, except for those who work in the sectors that are allowed. Businesses also cannot be fully opened.”

As of yesterday, Malaysia recorded 5,603 cases of Covid-19, including 71 new cases and 90 new recoveries.

Malaysia currently has among the highest recoveries in the world totalling 3,542 patients or 63% of patients infected with the virus. Two more deaths were also reported yesterday, pushing fatalities to 95.

The movement restriction measures, which started on March 18, had managed to curb the spread of the virus that has infected almost 2.7 million people worldwide.

Malaysia seems to be winning the war against the coronavirus and registered the longest streak of eight days for new recoveries out-numbering new cases.

Muhyiddin said should the country’s Covid-19 cases continue to record a significant decline, the government would likely relax the movement restrictions gradually for several segments.

With the prospect of another MCO extension, he said the government is studying strategies of short term, medium term and long term to revive the economy once the pandemic has been controlled.

Muhyiddin said among the initiatives considered are in building people’s capabilities and skills; promoting domestic spending; improving industry resilience, including for small and medium enterprises; and nurturing a more positive investment environment for the future.

Muslims start their Ramadhan fasting today, the first time in history that the holy month is observed without the congregational tarawih in mosques and food bazaars.

Muhyiddin said the few relaxations did not mean the end of the MCO.

“A little bit of relaxation. Not too relaxed.”

The PM said Putrajaya is considering giving a one-time allowance for such movements and studying methods of execution without jeopardising the safety and health of the people, and keeping the virus containment measures intact.