Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today several boxes need to be ticked before deciding whether to lift the movement control order (MCO) which is supposed to end on April 28.
- Border control
- Single-digit new cases
- Capability of labs for testing, having enough wards and ICU, improved detection standards
- Capability to look after high-risk groups – the handicapped, elderly, those with co-mobility illnesses
- Public adhering to new social norms after MCO lifted
- Identifying infected areas, getting their communities to work with MoH and relevant authorities to make sure the virus doesn’t spread again
He said there are six criteria, which are border control, MCO, health system, steps to protect high-risk groups, adhering to new norms and most importantly, working together with the relevant authorities to come up with a soft landing in the exit strategy.
“We aren’t sure if we will lift the MCO. What I know for sure is that we must continue to avoid gathering in large crowds,” said Dr Noor Hisham today during his daily Covid-19 briefings at Putrajaya.
“We are still surveying the data from the MCO but what we must do is fulfil six criteria before ending it. Number one is border control.
“If we open our borders then people will start coming in and there’s a big possibility they may have the virus,” he added.
He said out of the thousands of returning Malaysians they found 95 cases. From those 95, 68 came back from Indonesia, 12 from the United Kingdom, five from Singapore, four from Turkey, three from Holland, two from America and one from France.
Second is the MCO. As long as people are at home, they cannot spread nor infect each other.
Hence, Dr Noor Hisham said only when cases start to fall in the single digit can the government seriously consider lifting the MCO.
Third is having in place a good health system and improving the testing standards.
“From the capability of the labs for testing to whether we have enough wards and intensive care units, all of these have to be looked at closely.
“Then we must also be able to raise the detection standards from say 48 hours to 24 hours or less,” he explained.
Fourth is to make sure Malaysia has the capability to look after the high-risk groups — the handicapped, elderly, and those with co-mobility illnesses. These include those receiving treatment at hospitals like chemotherapy.
Fifth is that once the MCO is lifted, will the public adhere to the new social norms?
Dr Noor Hisham said Putrajaya needs to study this and instil in Malaysians’ minds that following social distancing, washing hands frequently and avoiding crowding around each other is the way to go moving forward.
“Finally, and the most important criteria, we must look at before considering lifting the MCO is to identify the areas that are infected by Covid-19 and get their communities to work with MOH and the relevant authorities to make sure the virus doesn’t spread again,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
“We must develop a framework for everyone to work with and aim for a ‘soft landing’ as our exit strategy. Right now, no plans are in place nor any decisions made on whether to extend or lift the MCO. We are still in the discussion stages,” he added. – MMO