PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has urged the government to begin implementing necessary lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Its secretary-general J. Solomon said Malaysia now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia, after 190 new cases were recorded on Sunday (March 15), bringing the total to 428 cases.
"However, it has become clear in recent days that the government’s response to the pandemic is woefully inadequate to check the alarming rate Covid-19 is spreading in the peninsular, as well as in East Malaysia.
"Despite that, schools, universities and colleges remain open, as are factories and other workplaces where thousands of people - adults and children - congregate for long hours.
"Restaurants, stalls, coffee shops and bistros continue to open till wee hours of the day with little regard for sanitation and cleanliness or the hygiene of their patrons.
"In short, its business as usual," said MTUC in a statement on Monday (March 16).
Solomon said Italy, France, and the United States have declared an emergency, with varying degrees of lockdown within their borders.
Similarly, the Sri Lankan government ordered to close schools and imposed restrictions to minimise public gatherings after only five Covid-19 cases there, he said.
Solomon said however in Malaysia, the government "seems averse" to drastically lessen public interaction to reduce the risk of mass infections.
"Lockdowns has become a common word in many countries affected by Covid 19, such as the US, Italy, France and China.
"As such, MTUC is urging the government to come out with clear and unambiguous measures on its plans to further reduce large scale public interactions," he said.
Solomon also said the government has to make a clear stand if schools and risky workplaces such as factories should be closed and stopped temporarily.
Solomon also said while the scheduled one-week school holidays have begun, the government should also consider closing schools for at least two more weeks for the safety of students, parents and teachers.
The same principle must be applied to private schools, colleges and universities, he added.
"The government must also decide and enforce clear guidelines for stalls and other eateries, including ensuring the hygiene of food handlers and workers, as well as sanitising the outlets on a daily basis.
"MTUC strongly urges the government to display strong leadership to put in place the necessary measures, even if they might be unpopular with the people, especially the business community," said Solomon.
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