KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will close all economic and social sectors by implementing a “total lockdown” throughout the country.
The first phase of the lockdown will last from Jun 1 to Jun 14. This move was announced in a media statement posted on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Facebook page on Friday (May 28) night.
Only essential economic and service sectors listed by the National Security Council will be allowed to operate during Phase 1 of the lockdown, said the statement.
“This decision was made after taking into account the current situation of COVID-19 transmission in Malaysia with daily case numbers exceeding 8,000 and active cases exceeding 70,000,” Mr Muhyiddin said.
More than 2,550 people in Malaysia have died from the disease.
The emergence of more virulent COVID-19 variants also influenced the National Security Council’s decision to implement the lockdown.
With the sharp rise in the daily number of COVID-19 cases, hospitals’ capacity to treat patients throughout the country are “becoming more limited”, said Mr Muhyiddin.
If the Phase 1 total lockdown is successful in reducing daily COVID-19 cases, the government will implement a four-week Phase 2 lockdown by allowing the reopening of a few economic sectors that do not involve large gatherings.
“Once the Phase 2 lockdown ends, the next step is the third phase, which is implementing a movement control order similar to the current one in effect, where social activities are not allowed and nearly all economic sectors are allowed to operate subject to strict standard operating procedures and limited physical presence at workplaces,” the prime minister said.
However, the decision to move from one phase to the next will be subject to the health ministry’s risk assessment, and will be based on the daily caseloads and the hospitals’ capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.
The government will ensure the Malaysian public health system will not crumble and that support and assistance will be given to the health ministry to increase hospital capacity, said the prime minister.
“The government will also increase the number of vaccine deliveries in the space of the next few weeks in the effort to develop herd immunity in the country.
“As a result of the government’s decision to execute full economic and social shutdown, the Finance Ministry will detail assistance packages for the people and affected economic sectors,” Mr Muhyiddin stated, adding these would be announced in the very near future.
READ: More people in Malaysia to work from home, shorter business hours among new COVID-19 curbs during MCO 3.0
Mr Muhyiddin’s announcement came as Malaysia set a COVID-19 case record for fourth straight day with 8,290 new infections, bringing the national total past 549,000.
Sixty-one more COVID-19 fatalities, aged between 27 and 92 were reported, pushing Malaysia’s death toll to 2,552.
A nationwide movement control order dubbed MCO 3.0 was reimposed in May, when all economic sectors were allowed to operate but people were encouraged to practise “self-lockdown”.
Amid calls for the government to impose a full lockdown as cases remained high, the government had announced tightened curbs that mandated more employees to work from home and business operating hours to be shortened.
Mr Muhyiddin, in a May 23 interview, said that while a full lockdown would guarantee people’s safety, there is a risk that the economy could collapse.
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