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Health DG: 6 Things We Need To End MCO

Health DG: 6 Things We Need To End MCO

Kirat Kaur

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Malaysians have been under Movement Control Order (MCO) for over a month now. Since 18th March, large gatherings have been cancelled, non-essential business have been closed and people who step outside with no proper reasons are at risk of arrest, or worse, Covid-19.

With an extension announced at the end of the last two MCO deadlines, many are unsure if there will be another extension following the end of Phase 3 on 28th April.

Health Director General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has revealed that the Health Ministry is monitoring data every day to determine if there should be an extension. While a decision has not been made, the ministry has identified 6 criteria to lift the MCO.

Border control

The nation needs to ensure border control to prevent import cases that can lead to new clusters. Dr Noor Hisham states that there is a high risk of people unwittingly bringing the virus if border restrictions are loosened.

As of 22nd April, 95 Malaysians entering the nation have been identified as Covid-19 positive. Of these 95, 68 are returnees from Indonesia, 12 from the United Kingdom, 5 from Singapore, 4 from Turkey, 2 from the Netherlands and 1 from France.

Movement control

Police officers conducting checks at a roadblock during the enhanced movement control order (EMCO).
(Credit: Shafwan Zaidon/Malay Mail)

To prevent community infections such as those seen in the nation’s 5 major clusters, including the Tabligh gathering that propelled Malaysia to the top of Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia at one point.

A movement control that encourages people to stay at home and avoid large gatherings or crowding can reduce the chances of infection.

Healthcare system’s capability

Dr Noor Hisham highlights that the capability of our laboratories to detect positive cases is an important factor in controlling the infection rates.

Right now, we are using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that takes 24 to 48 hours to give a result. If possible, we want to reduce this time to under 24 hours.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director General.

Another important indication to end the MCO is the healthcare system itself, in terms of sufficient wards and Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Ability to protect high risk groups

Medical personnel try to save a critical patient by using ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) in Wuhan, China.
(Credit: Barcroft Media/Getty Images)

Those at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 also need to be protected. These high risk groups include the elderly, persons with disabilities, those undergoing chemotherapy and those with comorbidities.

Comorbidities typically present in Covid-19 patients include:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cerebrovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis B infections
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Chronic kidney diseases
  • Malignancy (presence of malignant tumours, eg: cancer)
  • Immunodeficiency

Practising the new normal

The new normal is lifestyle and social changes which include social distancing, frequent hand washing and avoiding gatherings to keep Covid-19 cases under control.

(Credit: Shafwan Zaidon/Malay Mail)

Implementation of preventive measures in the community

The most important criteria to end the MCO is identifying areas and getting the community to work together with the Health Ministry to implement preventive measures.

Dr Noor Hisham states that these 6 criterias need to be implemented by every ministry and department to ensure a soft landing for exit strategy

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