Health D-G: Decision to relax MCO made jointly

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Putrajaya May 1, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Putrajaya May 1, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — The reopening of the economy was decided collectively by the entire government after considering the need to balance efforts to control the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the consequences to businesses, said Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general said the Health Ministry gave its input regarding the move and said all signs showed that Malaysia has succeeded in preventing an explosive spread of the disease locally.

“The decision was collective. The health ministry will make the advisory.

“Now it is clear we are in the recovery phase. We have to strike the right balance between life and livelihood.

“The first, second and third MCO helped us to flatten the curve. That was what we set out to achieve. Now is the next phase, to manage the virus in the community. That’s why we make sure every sector complies with the (SOP standard operating procedure). We sat down with every sector and advised them on the SOP. We made it very, very clear,” he said during his daily Covid-19 briefing here today.

Dr Noor Hisham said that health authorities had recommended against reopening several weeks ago when it was unclear if Malaysia had successfully flattened the infection curve, but said this was no longer the case.

He added that policies on Covid-19 must consider the disease’s infectiousness, deadliness, and impact on economic activities.

Among the factors considered was that the number of new cases was now at a stable and manageable rate, the increase of testing capacity to 87 per cent of its achievable limit, and a 70 per cent availability in hospital capacity to handle future cases, he said.

The Health D-G also pointed out that the MCO remained in effect and that authorities could enforce an enhanced version of the lockdown on any areas that show a spike in new cases or which fail to obey guidelines issued to limit infections.

“That’s why we were very clear on the compliance of the SOP from every sector. If they do not comply, we will close the locality or premise. If there is an outbreak of new case detection, we will implement an EMCO and lockdown the area,” he said.

“What’s important is that we maintain social distancing, keep and tighten border control, maintain hygiene and other guidelines,” he said.

He also said that the department will continue with its surveillance and keep monitoring and finding ways to contain the virus throughout the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

Earlier today, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the movement control order will be heavily relaxed on Monday to allow virtually all industries to recommence save for those that rely on large crowds.

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