Malaysia has reinstated a Movement Control Order (MCO) in six states and has entered a state of emergency in light of a spike in its coronavirus caseload.
The state of emergency was announced earlier today (January 12) by royal comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin on behalf of Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah. Sultan Abdullah approved the motion to enter a state of emergency following the country’s rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the past two months.
Per a Channel NewsAsia report, the country’s pandemic death toll over the past two months has matched its casualty rate from the first 10 months of the pandemic in 2020. The country’s current active cases are estimated at 28,500, with a total of 138,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. The current death count is at 555.
Malaysia’s coronavirus caseload threatens to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system, which Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said is “at a breaking point” in a live televised address.
The newly instated state of emergency will last until August 1 or earlier, if the number of positive coronavirus cases in the country subsides and are managed well. The MCO entails home quarantines and the closure of non-essential business over the next two weeks. The MCO also bans all inter-state travel.
Per Malay Mail, fresh MCOs are being introduced in all federal territories, Penang, Johor, Melaka, Selangor and Sabah. Perlis and Sarawak will be placed under Recovery MCO (RMCO), while the remaining six states in Malaysia are under Conditional MCO (CMCO).
RMCO entails the easing of some safety restrictions as Perlis and Sarawak boast better recovery rates than other states. The six states placed under CMCO are also showing signs of improvement, and may be placed under RMCOs as their caseloads improve.
Malaysian cinemas are just some of the entertainment establishments affected by the measures. The chain Gold Screen Cinemas has announced that it will be closing with effect from Wednesday, January 13. All pre-purchased tickets will be reimbursed.
Irving Chee, the general manager of GSC said in a statement to Variety: “This time, we expect the MCO to be renewed for two weeks at a time for some months”. The country’s entertainment industry witnessed the same situation last year, when MCOs were extended for a month before they were allowed to reopen with tighter safety measures.
The country’s new MCO has also caused the postponement of several events, including the popular Anugerah Juara Lagu 35 (AJL35) music competition. The televised competition, which was scheduled to take place on February 7, has yet to receive a new event date, Malay Mail reports.
While the MCO is expected to be lifted in two weeks, the competition’s organisers announced that “the 14 days of MCO will delay the preparations needed for the show, especially building the stage and the set”.