In his address to the nation on Tuesday (6 October), Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin talked about the country's COVID-19 situation, and the additional measures being taken to tackle it following the recent spike in positive cases.
On Tuesday itself, Malaysia had recorded a total of 691 new positive cases, bringing the total number of cases thus far to 13,504.
Among measures such as adherence to standard operating procedures, and compliance with quarantine instructions, PM Muhyiddin highlighted the following three key updates to note:
#1 The government will not implement another Movement Control Order
PM Muhyddin noted that to this day, the government has not thought about implementing the Movement Control Order nationwide or calling for a total lockdown again. "This move, if implemented again, could have a major impact which is feared to destroy the country's social and economic system," he explained.
Instead, what the government will do is to implement a Targeted Enhanced Movement Control Order in areas identified as having high COVID-19 cases.
With this, the PM added, economic and social activities in other unaffected areas can be continued with strict SOP practices and strict law enforcement. "I believe that the readiness of our health system will enable us to deal with the spread of COVID-19 without having to cover the economic sectors we have done before."
On the same note, the PM also said that the the economic recovery process is "running smoothly" and that, whatever decision is taken, it is necessary to take into account the interests of the country's 15 million people who go out to work. "This is important to ensure the survival of the people and the economic stability of the country."
#2 Start of movement restrictions between Sabah and the Peninsula postponed to 12 October 2020
On the issue of movement restrictions, PM Muhyiddin stated that if there is a need to restrict cross-state movement, a special session of the National Security Council (NSC) will discuss and decide on it. "I guarantee that adequate notice will be given to the public before any decision is made so that no one is stranded."
Further, he noted initial plans by the NSC to start restricting movements between Sabah and the Peninsula, Sarawak and Labuan starting on Wednesday (7 October). However, after discussions with Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the PM has decided to give more time before the restrictions begin.
"I made this decision to avoid many passengers who will be stranded due to time constraints to make changes to their itinerary."
In light of this, the new date of movement restrictions between the states of Sabah and the Peninsula, Sarawak and Labuan will be effective from 12 October 2020, 12.01am, to 25 October 2020.
Apart from the above, the government is also looking into proposals to limit councils and gatherings to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading. These include large conferences, weddings and public gatherings. The government will first seek more information from the Ministry of Health (KKM) first before deciding on the next steps forward.
#3 Schools to be closed in red zones, no decision on nationwide school closure yet
Schools in the red-zone areas of Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna, Sabah have been closed, and the Ministry of Education (KPM) is constantly monitoring the situation of COVID cases in schools nationwide, PM Muhyiddin said.
Should there be any case of COVID-19 in a school, KPM will work closely with the KKM to deal with it, he added. In this regard, KKM will inform the education ministry of the steps that need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of students, teachers and school staff.
PM Muhyiddin also added that if necessary, a decision on the closure of schools nationwide will be made at the special meeting of the NSC, following advice from the health ministry.