With the intention to contain the spread of COVID-19, Malaysian Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had just made a televised broadcast this noon (25 March), announcing the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The MCO, initially expected to end on 31 March, had been extended to 14 April 2020.
On 23 March, Mr Muhyiddin informed Malaysians that the decision to extend the MCO will be announced on 30 March, however, he decided to move up the announcement so that the people can be more prepared.
According to Mr Muhyiddin, the total confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 12pm today had risen to 1,796 with a total of 17 deaths, including a medical doctor. He stated that just seven days ago, there were 673 total confirmed cases, signifying that the positive cases had doubled in numbers in one week.
Mr Muhyiddin said that the Malaysian National Security Council had predicted that the number of positive cases will increase if the country does not do anything about it.
“The National Security Council informed me that there will be a greater increase in COVID-19 positive cases if we do not do anything. The total confirmed cases will double or triple like what had happened to other countries. In a way, this Movement Control Order had successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19 to a certain extent.”
He further explained that Malaysia should not be satisfied with the current progress until the country is able to achieve zero new positive cases. At the moment, the pattern of the increasing new cases for the past few days was gradual and even, according to Mr Muhyiddin.
“Continuous effort will be carried out to curb the spread of COVID-19 until we are able to contain this virus entirely and break the infection chain. This implies that the people’s movement will resume being controlled. The government’s strategy is to track, screen, isolate and treat the COVID-19 patients.”
Mr Muhyiddin added that Malaysia’s Ministry of Health will increase its capacity to implement large-scale screenings. This includes “mass testing” at the areas with high COVID-19 risks.
He had also urged Malaysians to be mentally and physically prepared to stay at home for a longer period of time.
“In order words, we intend to stop the infection. This strategy will succeed if more people avoid being infected with this virus via daily social activities. Therefore, people should be mentally and physically prepared to sit at home quietly for a reasonably longer period of time,” announced Mr Muhyiddin.
In regards to panic-buying and stockpiling food and essentials, Mr Muhyiddin assured that there is enough food for everybody.
“Please stay calm and don’t panic. Even though we have extended the Movement Control Order, you don’t have to unnecessarily stock up on food because the supply is sufficient. I assure you that food is enough for everybody.”