MCO-style lockdown imminent, DG says the worse is yet to come

By , in COVID19 Nation on .

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 6 — A new year does not necessarily usher in new everything as Malaysian authorities are considering lockdowns similar to that of the movement control order (MCO) Malaysians experienced in March 2020, which could see a ban on social activities and non-essential travel across several states hit by Covid-19, including the Klang Valley.

It is understood that a stricter MCO could be imposed in Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Johor, and Sabah, states which have been reporting high daily infection rates.

It is not clear how long a new and stricter lockdown would last, but health experts consulted by Putrajaya are confident it will slash the current daily rate by 80%. 

According to Health DG Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, it was apparent that there has been a spike in cases after interstate travel restrictions were loosened on Dec 7, adding that there is a lack of SOP compliance.


Further details are unclear as there are several unresolved legal issues but plans for further lockdown come in the wake of a rising death toll as daily cases hover above an average of 2,000.

According to individuals familiar with internal discussions on battling the pandemic, if the MCO is reinstated, it would see a ban on interstate travel as well as non-essential trips other than to get daily essentials.

“If reinstated, the MCO will also mean a complete ban on all religious and social gatherings including prayer congregations, weddings, sporting events, and festivals,” the source told NMT.

Although details on how the economic sector would be allowed to run under the new MCO have been fuzzy, it is likely that the authorities would not want to see the collapse of businesses again.

The MCO was first announced on March 18 last year, when the country was still recording two-digit numbers each day. The lockdown ravaged business across all sectors, forcing the government to release billions of ringgit in bailout packages.

In June, with several relaxed variants of health SOPs imposed, the MCO was eased. However, cases began to rise rapidly in September in the aftermath of the Sabah election, in what the health ministry stated was the third wave of the pandemic.

According to the DG, the health ministry is reviewing its public health strategies as the current infection rate has not come down, although the ministry has succeeded in keeping it from skyrocketing

“In the next one or two weeks after the New Year, we expect the number of infections to rise further. So, we must come up with new strategies, and this will be discussed with the National Security Council (NSC) before implementation,” he said.

Last month the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center at the University of Washington, said there would be a continuous rise in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia until March, with daily infections to hit 5,000 by Feb 25.

Despite the stark realities, Malaysians thronged beaches and other holiday destinations during the recent year-end break, with hotels reporting full occupancy, a far cry from the empty rooms throughout most of 2020.


Recommended articles