MCO, Prihatin Package help people tackle COVID-19

Taking a strict approach to curbing the spread of the virus, the EMCO has been enforced in Simpang Renggam, Sungai Lui and Menara City One.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, which enforced the Movement Control Order (MCO) for the first time on March 18, has extended the order with stricter implementation until April 14 in its bid to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic after the first phase ends exactly midnight Tuesday.

During the first phase of the MCO, various steps and efforts were taken by the government, private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as individuals working together to break the deadly chain of infection.

Taking a strict approach to curbing the spread of the virus, which until yesterday afternoon has killed 43 people in Malaysia and infected 2,766 people, the government enforced the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) in areas classified as COVID-19 red zones.

The EMCO has been enforced in Simpang Renggam, Kluang, Johor involving 3, 570 residents; Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat Selangor (3,918 people in seven villages); and Menara City One, Jalan Munshi Abdullah involving 3,200 condominium residents.

The implementation of the MCO, seen as an immediate effort to break the chain of infection in the community, among others saw the enforcement of travel restrictions out of every state, including overseas, closing of places of worship, schools and institutions of higher learning to protect the public.

The last two weeks, which no one here has ever faced before, has given everyone a new experience, among others like working from home, being house-bound, with only the head of the family being allowed to go out to buy essentials, purchase goods online, lectures and meetings held via teleconferences, ensuring the highest level of personal hygiene as well as social distancing.

Either they did not care or deliberately did not want to comply with the order, there were a few who still preferred to hang out, leave their houses for no good reason and to exercise until Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had to appeal to the public to stay home for the whole two weeks of the order.

The government also stepped up enforcement by arresting several defiant individuals, apart from deploying the military to assist the police in enforcing the MCO effective March 22.

Muhyiddin also delivered his address to the nation via television and radio several times regarding the government's steps to tackle the pandemic as well as to announce the Economic Stimulus Package following its effect on the economy and the people's lives.

The government, in making public health its priority, channelled additional allocation amounting to RM600 million to the Health Ministry to support efforts to tackle COVID-19 and fund the hiring of new contract staff, especially nurses.

A total of RM500 million was used to fund the purchase of medical equipment like ventilators and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment, additional personal protective equipment (PPEs) for public medical service personnel as well as laboratory requirements for COVID-19 screenings.

The MCO period also saw the nation receive various assistance from foreign countries, NGOs and the public in various forms, like medical equipment, volunteers, medical personnel and finance.

The capacity of the Health Ministry's laboratory involved in the COVID-19 screening test was expanded to an additional 10 diagnostic laboratories with the help of the Higher Education Ministry (KPT) and Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI).

In a bid to help those badly affected by the implementation of the MCO, the government launched a drastic initiative by tabling the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN), which can only be described as pucuk dicita ulam mendatang (getting what one wished for).

Of the total amount, nearly RM128 billion was channelled towards protecting the people's welfare, RM100 billion to support business, including Small and Medium Industries (SMEs), and RM2 billion to strengthen the nation's economy.