KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government could reimpose the movement control order (MCO) and call for a lockdown if Malaysians are lackadaisical about observing the new norms.
He said reports of new clusters cropping up in several states is a worrying sign, but if the public continue to be disciplined and follow the new norms, there won’t be any need for an MCO to be implemented.
Muhyiddin said this today during a ‘live’ telecast from Parliament.
“I am worried about these 13 new clusters cropping up since we moved into the recovery movement control order (RMCO) period.
“The cluster in Kuala Lumpur was detected on July 6 and the one in Stutong on July 18. Then there is the overseas returnee cluster, the cluster in Sarawak with three new infected, five in Melaka, three in Terengganu and two in Kuala Lumpur.
“More worrying is the fact positive cases have gone back to double digits for several days now. All these things should not be taken lightly as we do not want the country to go into lockdown again in case cases spike,” said Muhyiddin.
“I pray and hope we do not have to do it.”
Malaysia is currently in the RMCO period which started from June 10 and will last till August 31 and most restrictions have been eased up.
Prior to that, the government had imposed a strict restriction on movement in public from March 18. Most public places and businesses were closed, except for those in essential services.
Since then, Malaysia has undergone five phases of MCO, with strict prohibition of activities as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that aimed to break the chain of Covid-19 infections.
Malaysia has been praised by the WHO as one of the best countries in containing the virus outbreak.
However, Muhyiddin said more people have become complacent in light of the current health successes.
He said he has seen Malaysians ignoring the one-metre social distance rule set by the government to stand in close proximity with each other, even hugging one another.
“As I’ve mentioned before, success in eradicating this virus depends on us, our attitude and our habits.
“Don’t think just because there are fewer cases that you don’t need to wear a mask when outdoors. Please wear the mask,” he said.
“I keep telling people to stop shaking hands, but I see others hugging and embracing each other. While it makes your relationships closer, it does nothing for your safety and wellbeing,” he added.
He warned that the next lockdown, if called, will cripple the country’s economy and derail current GDP growth estimates for 2021.
He pled with Malaysians to follow the health SOP for everyone’s sake, especially those overseas returnees who have been given the freedom to be quarantined at home instead of in a facility.
“If necessary, we will quarantine future returnees in the quarantine centres for closer observation. As for those with the mandatory home quarantining, stay at home, do not go out or you will be met with severe punishment,” he warned.
Malaysia recorded another 21 new cases for Covid-19 today. Fifteen were locally transmitted while the rest were from overseas returnees.