Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Friday, May 1, that most of the country's economic sectors will be reopened from Monday, May 4, with stringent health protocols and conditions in place, as the country relaxes its partial lockdown.
The decision has been made after health authorities report 16 consecutive days of a lower number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in-country and a reportedly high patient recovery rate of 69.5 percent. Muhyiddin announced the new phase as the "conditional Movement Control Order (MCO)"; the MCO was initially imposed on March 18.
According to reports, economic sectors involving large gatherings of people will continue to be closed and stringent health standard operating procedures will be implemented for those allowed to reopen. Individuals will be prevented from joining group activities and sports involving physical contact such as football, rugby, night clubs, entertainment outlets, swimming at public pools, religious mass gatherings, exhibitions, and Ramadan food bazaars. However, activities involving ten individuals or fewer, such as tennis, jogging, cycling, golf, and running etc., will be permitted.
The new order will also allow restaurants to operate, however, physical and social distancing will be required at these establishments. According to reports, tables will be arranged 2 m (6.5 ft) away from each other with a limit of up to three people allowed to dine together. Further measures such as taking customers' body temperatures on arrival and registering their names in case COVID-19 contact tracing is required following a confirmed case, will be encouraged if not enforced. Furthermore, restaurants owners must provide their workers with hand sanitizer and face masks.
Schools and universities will remain closed and inter-state travel within the country's 13 states will remain prohibited, except if necessary for work purposes. Religious activities including Friday prayers and others which involve large congregations in places of worships will not be permitted, including in mosques during Ramadan.
As of Friday, May 1, there have been 6071 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Malaysia, with 103 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the disease is to be expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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