Malaysian authorities announced on Sunday, May 10, a four-week extension to existing curbs on movement and businesses until Tuesday, June 9, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The movement control order (MCO) and requirements for businesses include the practice of social distancing and strict hygiene requirements. The extension of such measures comes amid the gradual reopening of most economic activity in Malaysia.
The Penang state government announced on May 3, that it would enforce the conditional movement control order (CMCO) from Friday, May 8, to mitigate the risks of completely relaxing the original MCO, which will remain in place. Local authorities have decided to reopen the economy gradually in three phases. During the first preparatory phase from Monday, May 4, to Thursday, May 7, all businesses are encouraged to plan health protocols prior to commencing operations. In the second adaptation phase from Friday, May 8, to Tuesday, May 12, only certain sectors will be allowed to reopen while adhering to strict measures. All sectors are only permitted to resume operations in the final phase from Wednesday, May 13, onwards.
Malaysia's economic sectors reopened on Monday, May 4, under the new CMCO phase with stringent health protocols in place. However, economic sectors involving mass gatherings will continue to be closed and stringent health standard operating procedures will be implemented for those allowed to reopen. Individuals are prohibited 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. Activities involving ten individuals or fewer, such as tennis, jogging, cycling, golf, and running will be permitted.
The new order also allows 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. Furthermore, restaurant owners must provide their workers with hand sanitizer and face masks.
Schools and universities will remain closed and interstate travel within the country's 13 states will remain prohibited, except for work purposes. However, limited interstate travel will be allowed for families to reunite in preparation for the Eid al-Fitr celebration, which will take place between Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24. Religious activities including Friday prayers and others that involve large congregations in places of worship will not be permitted, including in mosques during Ramadan.
As of May 10, authorities have confirmed 6656 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 108 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over 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). 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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