Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday (April 23) announced that the movement control order (MCO) will be extended two weeks.
The MCO was first enforced on March 18, two days following the announcement by the Prime Minister in the midst of the one-week school holidays as Covid-19 cases started to spike.
It was then extended twice; first to April 14, and then to April 28.
The people must prepare to stay home longer with the prospect of phase four of the movement control order (MCO) looming, as the government prepares standard operating procedures (SOPs) to cater for Ramadan, say government sources according to a report from the Star.
Although there has yet to be an official announcement, the government’s preparation for a Ramadan under MCO signals the possibility of a phase four.
The MCO, which began on March 18, is now in its third phase which will end on April 28.
As the first three phases were in two-week stages, phase four is likely to be another two weeks.
According to the Star, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to give a special Ramadan speech to the nation tonight to address the worries of Muslims fasting during the MCO.
Business sectors are already bracing for an extended MCO and are making arrangements to cushion the impact. Business owners say they intend to continue operating at below 50% of their capacity.
The Star quoting Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said the government was not only looking at allowing students who had been stuck at hostels in higher learning institutions due to the MCO to go back to their hometowns, but it was also discussing the possibility of allowing those who went back to their hometowns during the first few days of the MCO to return to the towns and cities.
“For the early stages, they can apply to the police through the online application Gerak Malaysia, a collaboration between the police and Communications and Multimedia Ministry, from April 25 onwards,” he said.
But he cautioned that the possibility of letting people come back to the cities from their hometowns would only be decided on once the authorities had the complete data.
According to the Star, religious authorities, under the purview of Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Al-Bakri, are also formulating fatwa (a formal ruling on a point of Islamic law) to ensure that Muslims are not in doubt about fasting during the MCO.“The National Fatwa Council met on April 21 and we discussed issues that needed to be decided regarding fasting during MCO amid a pandemic.
“We decided that a swab test for Covid-19 does not invalidate a patient’s fast.
“We also discussed if frontliners could be exempted from fasting while on duty,” said Zulkifli in an interview, adding that all decisions were based on the advice of the Health Ministry.
He said frontliners who found it difficult to fast while on duty, be they medical or security personnel, had a right not to fast, but it must be replaced at another time.
“For Covid-19 patients on medication, he or she need not fast but must pay it back when he or she is well again.
“For suspected or positive cases where they do not have symptoms and do not have to take medication, including those being isolated at home or in quarantine stations, then if health permits, he or she should fast during Ramadan.
This was debated among the clerics in Al-Azhar University and doctors were consulted,” said Zulkifli.
The Star said some government agencies such as the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) have also launched soup kitchens and food banks to assist underprivileged groups during Ramadan.
The latest is the RM2.16 million It’am Kitchen in selected mosques for pre-dawn and breaking of fast meals, which will then be delivered to deserving groups in accordance with the SOP of authorities, said Jawi.
The announcement by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof yesterday that most applications from construction companies to continue operations during the MCO had been rejected was yet another indication of a potential extension to the MCO.
“The government received 19,000 applications from companies in the construction industry to operate during the MCO. Of these, 1,856 were approved while 7,387 applications were not,” he said.
Fadillah added that smaller contractors could restart their work for house renovation, but they must apply for permission from the authorities.
Source : The Edge
Health D-G lists six criteria that need fulfilling first
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.
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,” hadded.
He said out of the thousand 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.
The second criteria 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.
The third criteria 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.
The fourth criteria is to make sure Malaysia has the capability to look after the high-risk groups — the handicapped, elderly, and those with co-morbidity illnesses. These include those receiving treatment at hospitals like chemotherapy.
The fifth criteria 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.