Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) has urged the postponement of all large-scale events and mass gatherings in the country, amid the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday (2 October), Director-General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said mass gatherings should be avoided in order to break the chain of infection in the country, Bernama reported.

He said: "If mass gatherings or conferences need to be held, each organiser must ensure that the standard operating procedures (SOP) set are complied with by all parties. 

"We are still in the Recovery Movement Control Order period and everyone must comply with the SOP set by the National Security Council."

While this was so, he added there is no advice to limit activities in the social sector as of yet, despite the rise in COVID-19 cases. However, the ministry is monitoring the situation and, should there be rapid spread, it will look into a follow-up action.

On the same note, Dr Noor Hisham warned that Malaysia is expected to enter a third wave of COVID-19, given increasing number of cases worldwide.

As cited in a separate Bernama report, he said: "Now we see it is at the starting stage for the third wave; so the cases detected were not only in our country but other countries are also seeing an increase."

Thus, he highlighted that the MOH will be working with agencies such as the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Immigration Department, and Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), and even Malaysians, in tackling the situation.

For instance, the MOH will be implementing public health interventions, while the PDRM will be putting in place roadblocks, and the MAF will be stepping up border controls.

The re-opening of the Malaysia-Singapore border continues to be a key focus

In further COVID-19 news, the re-opening of the Malaysia-Singapore border continues to be a key focus of the federal government of Malaysia, despite the country's recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamad has announced.

Explaining this, in a report by Bernamathe Minister said while the government was aware that there would be numerous risks involved in this, there should still be a coherence between the health and the economy in efforts to revive the economy. 

He said:"We are aware that Johor has been affected by the closure of the border. This matter was raised a number of times by the Menteri Besar (Datuk Ir Hasni Mohammad) and constantly deliberated at federal level.

"In fact, the Economic Action Council meeting on Monday dwelled on tourism as 50% of our tourists are from Singapore."

At the same time, he added, the border closure meant there won't be Singaporeans visiting Johor, while Malaysians will also be unable to work across in Singapore.

Thus, the government hopes to have the borders opened in due course, even in stages, in order to help revive Johor's economy.

Only foreign dignitaries allowed in attempt to reduce risk of COVID-19 spread

In similar news, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said the country will only allow official visits from cabinet members of allied countries for the time being, as Malaysia attempts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday (3 October), and cited by Malay Mail, Minister Ismail Sabri said these foreign dignitaries will still have to adhere to the relevant SOPs, including to conduct a swab test three days prior to their visit and upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

All delegates will only be allowed to travel via chartered flights, he noted. Once they arrive at the airport, the members will be escorted straight to their respective hotels, and back to the airport at the end of the visit.

They will not be allowed to travel anywhere apart from the locations of their official visit.

At the same time, Malaysian delegates travelling for official visits abroad will also have to comply with the relevant SOPs, and have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arriving back in Malaysia.

Photo / Screenshot of Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at Friday's press conference, MOH's Facebook page

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