JOHOR BAHRU: Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has called for the Malaysian government to consider “a full lockdown” if the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.
Sultan Ibrahim released the statement on Wednesday (May 26) evening, the same day the country reported 7,478 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily rise in infections since the start of the pandemic.
The country has logged more than 6,000 new cases daily for eight consecutive days as it struggles to contain a third wave of COVID-19.
“Over 7,400 cases alone today. This is frightening and we need almost all facets of society to stay home to break the chain of infection. The virus is spread through the mingling of people,” said Sultan Ibrahim.
He added that Malaysians must be disciplined enough and practise “self-lockdown” or risk getting infected unknowingly.
“Therefore, there must be discipline across the board for all levels of society to commit to a lockdown to prevent the worst from happening to all of us. The government should consider a full lockdown as well, if COVID-19 numbers show no sign of abating,” said Sultan Ibrahim.
“Let’s swallow the bitter pill now, instead of suffering continuously in limbo,” he added.
The government had earlier implemented a nationwide movement control order (MCO) until Jun 7 to curb the spread of the pandemic but some people have expressed frustration that economic sectors were still permitted to operate.
Furthermore, 60 per cent of workers in the private sectors as well as 20 per cent in the public sector were allowed to work in offices.
READ: Johor sultan calls for state elected representatives to meet over COVID-19 amid emergency status
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has warned that a full COVID-19 lockdown, like MCO 1.0 implemented in March 2020 with all sectors shut, would guarantee people’s safety, but there is a risk that the economy could collapse.
Mr Muhyiddin said: “If we need to do it again (and roll out economic assistance), we need more money. RM340 billion will not be enough because the impact is worse. I would need to set aside half a trillion. But do we have half a trillion?”
“That is why we have learnt over the last year, we cannot close the economy. We have to balance life and livelihoods … I think life is important because I do not want people to die because of our or their carelessness. But I also do not want our economy to collapse to a point where people have no money to eat,” he added.
READ: ‘Prepare for the worst’ – Record 7,289 new COVID-19 cases in Malaysia as hospital ICUs struggle with surge
REDUCE OUR BURDEN ON FRONTLINERS: SULTAN IBRAHIM
In his statement on Wednesday, Sultan Ibrahim stressed that it was important for “all levels of society” to commit to a self-lockdown for the sake of frontliners, especially medical staff, who he said have to “bear the brunt of the virus’ onslaught”.
“We can see for ourselves their exhaustion and depression, yet they diligently stick to their duties and tasks. Remember, COVID-19 is not the only disease they have to deal with,” said Sultan Ibrahim.
“Have pity on them. We must all do our part to reduce the burden on them and break the chain of infection for our greater good,” he added.
Sultan Ibrahim added that he also spoke to Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah on Wednesday and received an update on the latest COVID-19 developments.
He said: “The emergence of new variants is also frightening, and the virus is now airborne too. If infections continue to rise, I worry even more variants of COVID-19 will appear.
“In these uncertain times, I also urge those who are able to step forward and help others who have fallen on hard times in any way they can,” added Sultan Ibrahim.
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