Dr Noor Hisham hopes Covid-19 cases will stabilise soon to allow Malaysia back to CMCO

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
·3-min read
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on January 19, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on January 19, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah expressed hope today for Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation to stabilise in two weeks’ time with the movement control order (MCO) in place now.

He said preventing wild fluctuations was necessary for the MCO to be effective and lifted eventually.

Dr Noor Hisham said that based on the Health Ministry’s projection models, the extension of the MCO to February 4 should allow the country to return to the conditional MCO.

“We hope in these two weeks of the MCO, we will avoid an increase of cases but see it stabilise, and over the next two weeks, after January 27, then we will be able to see the reduction in case numbers.

“If we implement the MCO for four weeks, and then the CMCO for the next few weeks, maybe we can achieve double digits case numbers in May.

“By May 11, maybe we will achieve two-digits, this is our target,” he said during a live media briefing session held over Zoom this evening.

When asked to justify the more lenient approach with the latest MCO, as compared to when it was implemented in March last year, Dr Noor Hisham explained this was due to the government learning from their past approaches to the lockdown.

He said this was after the government realised a complete lockdown like the first MCO was “overdoing it”, pointing out how a targeted approach to areas with high infectivity was needed instead of a blanket approach.

“When we started on March 18, we did a total lockdown of the whole country and the justification at that time is we do not know, the experience at that time about a lockdown was very limited.

“Like for Sarawak, it was a green zone, no cases, but we enforced the lockdown on the state for six-weeks, that’s the reason why we think a total lockdown may not be necessary but it depends on the affected area.

“Although the results were good but then are we overdoing it at that point of time, so we looked back in terms of what we have done; certainly it’s good, but we are overdoing it,” he said.

However, Dr Noor Hisham explained that an MCO was indeed necessary despite several weeks of a conditional MCO in the Klang Valley towards the ends of last year, saying their experience also revealed how the general public are not disciplined enough to fully comply with the SOPs.

He said after state lines were reopened in December, the government thought the public would be able to practice self-discipline to adhere to the SOPs, but a spike in new infections said otherwise.

“We thought we could empower the public, so that they become responsible and that they have the self discipline to control themselves when we eased regulations a little.

“But having said that, they chose to return to their hometowns and these issues came up, which means we cannot empower the public yet at the moment; the awareness is not there in terms to prevent the infection.

“So now we have to come back to the drawing board to take drastic action to put back the MCO,” he explained.

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