Health DG: MCOs not meant to end pandemic, but to contain it


PUTRAJAYA: The various stages of the movement control order will not end the Covid-19 pandemic but only contain it, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic).

The Health director-general said the imposition of the conditional, enhanced and recovery MCO was meant to break the chain of infection within the community.

“The public health methods and implementation of MCO that we use will not end the infection. We would only get to control the infection and the fight will go on, ” he said during a special briefing here yesterday on the latest regarding Covid-19.

Dr Noor Hisham said: “The ministry’s plan and strategy has been to contain the virus’ infection so that the pandemic is under control in the country, just like how the situation was when there were single or double-digit cases in the community.”

“Under control means the R-naught (R0) value is below 0.5 and people adhere to standard operating procedure. Although we still have to live with the virus, it is under control.

“If we get to control it then we can go back to recovery MCO, living like normal but abiding by the SOP.

“We need to be cautious in our behaviour so that the infection is outside our body, otherwise we will need medicine and vaccine to fight it, ” he said.

(The R0 is the value of a virus’ infectivity).

Also present at the briefing were Health deputy directors-general Datuk Dr Rohaizat Yon (medical), Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim (research and technical support) and Dr Norhayati Rusli (disease control division).

Dr Noor Hisham said that for eight months, Malaysia managed to contain the infection by bringing the R0 to below 1.

“However, cases began increasing since September and October. On the field, our frontliners are facing fatigue both mentally and physically, just as the people are being lax in adhering to SOP.

“But the virus is never tired; it will infect us when we take the SOP lightly. Our war on the virus continues.”

Dr Noor Hisham said the conditional MCO has proven to work, noting that Melaka and Terengganu are back to being under recovery MCO starting today.

For now, he said, the R-value is still between 0.9 and 1, and “not good enough”.

“If we can bring it down to below 0.5, or better still, 0.3, just like before the third wave, then we can all go back to recovery MCO.”

Dr Noor Hisham also said it is challenging to implement MCO in Selangor, which has the highest movement of people, with the need to balance between lives and livelihoods.

“The ministry had wanted to re-implement MCO in Selangor to bring down the cases but it involves very high cost.

“More than 40% of the country’s economic activities are focused in Selangor. It is challenging to control and that’s why the conditional MCO was used instead, ” he explained.

Dr Noor Hisham also refuted claims that the conditional MCO imposed in several states have failed, saying that Malaysia managed to avert an exponential surge in cases in the third wave by implementing it.

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