MCO expected to end by CNY, says Health DG

THE Health Ministry expects the Movement Control Order to end by the first day of Chinese New Year, with daily new Covid-19 cases to dip to double-digits by May.

Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said it was unlikely for a “total lockdown” to be imposed beyond four weeks, as the ministry would also want to strike a balance between people’s lives and livelihoods.

The current MCO came into force on Jan 12 and is scheduled to end on Feb 4, although there’s widespread expectations that it would be prolonged due to the high number of daily new Covid-19 cases. The first day of Chinese New Year is on Feb 12.

“After the cases stabilise at around 3,000 a day, we hope to see a decrease in cases in another two weeks. If we impose the MCO for four weeks, followed by a CMCO after that, maybe we can achieve daily double-digit cases by May,” he told the media at a Covid-19 emergency briefing yesterday, FMT reported.

He added that the country’s current infection rate or R0 (R Naught) had improved slightly from 1.2 to 1.06 today.

Dr Noor Hisham also revealed that 95 of the 135 private hospitals have agreed to assist the health ministry by taking in Category 3, 4 and 5 patients in their facilities.

This will bring an additional 54 ventilators and 1,351 beds, including 65 beds for intensive care into the Covid-19 healthcare system.

Although the health ministry’s capacity has increased, he said healthcare officials were still working to reduce the number of daily cases so the system was able to cope.

Dr Noor Hisham said discussions are being held with insurance companies and Bank Negara for patients to claim medical insurance for costs of Covid-19 treatment.

In the meantime, he said they would focus on transferring more non-Covid-19 patients to private hospitals, adding that the health ministry had already sent 3,800 patients for surgery in the private sector last year.