MCO should be extended to and beyond Raya, says academy

KUALA LUMPUR: The movement control order (MCO), which was implemented from March 18 to control the spread of Covid-19, should be extended to and beyond the Hari Raya Aidilfitri season, says a medical group.

The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia said that the current MCO must continue beyond the current Phase 2 that will end on April 14.

“For public health reasons, the ban on non-essential interstate travel must continue leading up to and beyond the Aidilfitri period, ” it said in a statement on Thursday (April 8) in response to an online media report.

Hari Raya is expected to fall on May 24 while Hari Gawai and the Harvest Festival will also follow soon after this period, the academy noted.

On Thursday (April 9), The Star reported that many health experts have called for the MCO to be extended for at least another two weeks.

The academy said that while it understands many wish to travel and spend time with their loved ones during Ramadan and Hari Raya, they need to take note of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.

“The risk of spreading the virus, particularly to the elderly, in the case of a 'balik kampung' exodus, is very real.

“Risks associated with crowding at R&R (rest and recreation) stations, and hence the failure of social distancing by travellers during this exodus and their subsequent return to urban areas, will also need to be taken into consideration, ” it said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it necessary for social distancing to be a new norm for at least a period of time until the situation is well under control, it added.

In fact, for this year, gatherings for Ramadan, Hari Raya or even the haj need to be controlled, monitored and possibly banned, it added.

“Given the need to prolong the MCO, we urge the government to strengthen plans to ease the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic.

"We are cognisant that this pandemic has and will continue to have a major negative impact on all aspects of the economy, which is why robust whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches are needed, ” the academy said.

It added that a premature withdrawal or excessive relaxation of MCO restrictions would potentially undo all the good that has been achieved from staying home these past four weeks.

“The war against Covid-19 is far from over. Many sacrifices have and will continue to be made this year.

“Let us show the world that Malaysians can exercise restraint as a nation and bring the war to a favourable close," it said.

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