Should Malaysia’s movement restrictions continue beyond April 14? Many people think so, according to two separate online polls conducted by the Malaysian National Security Council and state news agency Bernama.
Around 206,000 people or 88 per cent of those who voted on a poll published on the National Security Council’s Telegram channel said an extension was necessary.
Similarly, close to 23,000 or 86 per cent of people who responded to Bernama’s Facebook poll indicated so, while 82 per cent of the 2,759 voters on its Twitter poll said the same thing.
Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO), which has restricted Malaysians from unnecessary travel outside of their own homes since March 18, has already been extended once before and is already in its second phase.
“The MCO should definitely be extended because of the continuing rise in cases,” one Facebook user was quoted by the news website as saying.
“Please proceed with the MCO. I do not have the confidence to go out or even send my kids to school,” another wrote.
Experts also want MCO extended
And the netizens are not alone in their uncertainty.
According to The Star, a number of experts have also called for the MCO to be extended beyond April 14, and perhaps even past Hari Raya Puasa, which falls on May 23 and 24 this year.
In a report, the Star quoted the Academy of Sciences of Malaysia as saying: “The risk of spreading the virus, particularly to the elderly, in the case of a ‘balik kampung’ exodus, is very real.”
The academy also urged the government to “show the world that Malaysians can exercise restraint as a nation and bring the war to a favourable close”.
According to The Star, other health experts have also called for the MCO to be extended.
“I hope the Health Ministry will advise the government to extend the MCO for another two weeks, and ending it earlier if the daily new cases drop to below 50,” Third World Network senior researcher Dr Lim Chee Han was quoted as saying.
Another expert from the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia also suggested implementing the MCO for at least six weeks.
“China took six weeks of total lockdown to reduce from thousands of cases a day to below 10,” The Star quoted the association’s adviser Datuk Dr Musa Nordin as saying.
On Wednesday, a new study published in The Lancet journal also suggested that prematurely lifting interventions such as lockdowns will likely lead to a second wave of infection.
“While these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without herd immunity against COVID-19, cases could easily resurge as businesses, factory operations, and schools gradually resume and increase social mixing, particularly given the increasing risk of imported cases from overseas as Covid-19 continues to spread globally”, the University of Hong Kong’s Professor Joseph T Wu, who co-led the research, said.
“Although control policies such as physical distancing and behavioural change are likely to be maintained for some time, proactively striking a balance between resuming economic activities and keeping the reproductive number below one is likely to be the best strategy until effective vaccines become widely available,” he added.
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