By John Isaac
HEALTH director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has reiterated his call for all Malaysians to observe a two-week “self-lockdown” even without the formal government declaration initially expected to be announced today.
Speaking during a joint press conference with Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Noor Hisham said the two-week period would assist the ministry in efforts to break the Covid-19 infection chain.
“I am appealing to all Malaysians to help the Health Ministry by practicing a self-lockdown for two weeks.
“Help us break the Covid-19 chain so our hospitals can cope with a more expected number of patients,” he said.
“The two-week period is needed for the Health Ministry to boost our readiness, to stockpile equipment, rearrange our wards and others,” said Noor Hisham as reported by Malaysiakini.
On average, he said, intensive care units (ICUs) at public hospitals nationwide were now at 91 percent capacity while those in the Klang Valley were at an overcapacity at an average of 113 percent as more Covid-19 patients fall critically ill.
Ismail, meanwhile, announced tightened procedures to existing movement control order regulations. Initial speculation had been that there would be a full-scale nationwide lockdown similar to the one imposed during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
The tightened regulations for Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan will be in effect from May 25 to June 7.
Ismail noted that the first MCO last year had led to nearly 800,000 individuals losing their jobs comprising mostly daily wage earners.
“If we close everything, maybe there will be some big companies forced to shut down and the effect will be more job losses,” he said.
“So no matter what we do even with the tightened SOPs, more importantly, it will be our self-discipline and self-regulation that will ensure there are no infections among us.
“Make sure to follow the SOPs […] it is not only the duty of the government but it is our collective responsibility,” he said.
Asked whether the National Security Council had heeded warnings from industry players and manufacturers against a full MCO, Ismail said the government had imposed targeted lockdowns with enhanced movement control orders.
The Health Ministry yesterday reported 6,320 new cases of Covid-19 and 50 deaths.
It was the fourth day in a row that new cases have exceeded the 6,000 mark.