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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.
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.
To prevent community infections such as those seen in the nationâ€™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 systemâ€™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
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:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Cerebrovascular diseases
- Hepatitis B infections
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic kidney diseases
- Malignancy (presence of malignant tumours, eg: cancer)
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.
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
She puts the pun in Punjabi. With a background in healthcare, lifestyle writing and memes, this lady's articles walk a fine line between pun-dai and pun-ishing.