PETALING JAYA: Mass gatherings, including international meetings, sports, social and religious events, will be put off until April 30 or cancelled, says the Prime Minister.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said this decision would only be reversed if the situation improved, which he said was unlikely going by the current trend.
Appealing to the people to maintain proper hygiene as recommended by health experts, he said prayers at mosques should follow guidelines issued by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri. He urged the respective states to also come up with similar guidelines.
“Events involving other religions that are on a mass-scale must also take into account the advice and instructions from the Health Ministry from time to time, ” said Muhyiddin in a televised address to the nation last night.
The Prime Minister said more hospitals would be roped in to handle and provide treatment for Covid-19 cases.
Presently, he said 26 government hospitals and the University Malaya Medical Centre had the capacity to handle the outbreak.
To prepare ahead, he said collaboration with private hospitals and those under the Defence Ministry were also underway.
“Also, there are 57 government hospitals and health clinics nationwide that are ready to conduct health screening for those with Covid-19 symptoms. The government has also identified the Sungai Buloh Hospital, as well as a hospital in each state, as special hospitals to treat these cases.
“Labs to conduct Covid-19 tests have also been enhanced. This includes 22 labs under the Health Ministry, as well as other labs under the Defence Ministry and the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry, ” he added.
Muhyiddin said the government would enhance screenings at all international entry points, adding that it realised travel restrictions were necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19.
As such, he said the travel ban to three provinces in China – Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang – as well as Hokkaido in Japan, and Italy, Iran and South Korea would continue.
He advised Malaysians not to travel to these places, as well as to other destinations.
The Prime Minister said cruise ships could dock to resupply but only Malaysian crew members would be allowed to disembark, subject to strict health screenings.
“The government is also very concerned about the plight of Malaysians who are in countries that are badly affected, such as China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
“So far, we have brought back 107 Malaysians from some of these countries, while 65 Malaysians in Iran and 323 in Italy are in the process of being brought home, ” he added.
Muhyiddin said the tourism, transportation and small and medium-scale industries had taken a beating, acknowledging that cancelled tour packages had affected the airline and hotel industry.
“The estimated losses in the tourism industry from January to February this year is about RM3.37bil.
“The government estimates that GDP will decline between 0.8% and 1.2% (for 2020), which is between RM10.8bil and RM17.3bil.
“I realise that immediate steps must be taken by the government to reduce the effect of the outbreak on the national economy, especially to the people.
“As such, the government will ensure the economic stimulus package announced recently will be monitored so that the effects can be felt by all soon, ” he added.
The Prime Minister, who said he was receiving daily briefings on the pandemic, also assured that there would be enough supply of essential goods.
“I thank all the frontliners for their efforts in handling the outbreak, ” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said 39 Covid-19 cases were detected in the country yesterday, the highest number recorded in a day so far. This brings the overall number of cases in the country to 197 cases.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 38 cases were detected from the Patient-Under-Investigation infection, while the other case was from close contact.