Movement control order not a lockdown, says former health minister

Former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the movement control order is a form of social distancing that can 'flatten the epidemic curve'. — Bernama pic
Former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the movement control order is a form of social distancing that can 'flatten the epidemic curve'. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The movement control order announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to combat Covid-19 is not a lockdown, said former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad.

In a Malaysiakini report today, Dzulkelfy said this is but a form of social distancing that can “flatten the epidemic curve”.

“This is nothing like a lockdown at all. A lockdown is when you can’t leave your home, there’s a total curfew, you can’t go out to buy food,” Dzulkefly was quoted as saying in an immediate reaction to the prime minister’s speech tonight.

“It is the best expression of social distancing. It is a disruption, yes, but the end game is to flatten the epidemic curve,” he added.

According to news reports and studies, social distancing is all part of an effort to do what epidemiologists call flattening the curve of the pandemic.

Malaysia is not the first country ordered by its government to undergo this restriction exercise. Other parts of the globe, like various states in the US are also practicing social distancing which contributes to flattening the epidemic curve.

People watching the live telecast of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement of a nationwide movement control order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, at a restaurant in Kajang March 16, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People watching the live telecast of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement of a nationwide movement control order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, at a restaurant in Kajang March 16, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Earlier, Muhyiddin had announced that starting March 18 until March 31, there will be a limit on public movements as an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19.

While places such as schools, gyms, government and private premises will have to shut their doors, essential services, supermarkets, wet markets, grocery shops and convenience stores will remain open and accessible, the prime minister said.

Muhyiddin had also, in his speech, said many countries had taken drastic measures to combat Covid-19, such as China, which has helped slow the virus’ spread.

However, Dzulkefly said this was an unfortunate comparison, as the measures taken are nothing like the lockdowns in China or Italy.

“Be that as it may, as the chair of the Selangor Covid-19 taskforce, I am all for this. This is quite in line with social distancing efforts,” he said.

Dzulkefly had earlier today advocated intense social distancing in his Facebook page, including urging people to stay at home except and only go out for essential work or medical visits.

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