Local authorities introduced an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) in Kedah State's Kota Setar district on Friday, September 11, restricting travel in and out of the area for two weeks until September 25. During the EMCO period, private travel into or out of the district, including the state capital Alor Setar, is prohibited, whilst the Bukit Kayu Hitam border crossing with Thailand has also been closed to private traffic. Other coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions will also be increased in the district, with schools, higher education and training centers, and non-essential businesses being ordered to close and sporting, social and recreational activities being banned. However, essential services such as food stores and fuel stations will be allowed to open from 08:00 to 20:00 (local time) and restaurants will be permitted to offer takeaway services.
Around 366,787 residents in the district are expected to be subject to the EMCO, with most being required to work from home during the two-week lockdown. Only one person per household will be permitted to leave their residence at any one time to shop or seek essential services. Police patrols and checkpoints have been increased in the district in order to enforce the heightened restrictions.
The EMCO restrictions come after several COVID-19 clusters were identified in Kedah State, particularly in the Tawar, Sivagangga, and Sungai areas.
Disruptions from the movement control orders and a heightened security presence are likely in Kota Setar in the medium term.
As of September 13, there have been 9868 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Malaysia with 128 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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