PUTRAJAYA: The alarming spike in the number of Covid-19 cases and the emergence of more dangerous variants from South Africa and India forced the Federal Government to impose another round of nationwide movement control order starting today.
“People asked why the SOP keeps on changing. This is because Covid-19 cases are dynamic and we need to have procedures according to the current situation.
“The SOP in place three months ago may have to be different from the one now to suit the situation, ” said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic).
He assured the people that despite the enforcement of MCO 3.0, the economic sector would still be allowed to operate, so as not to affect the livelihood of many, particularly the B40 group and small businesses.
“Some of the standard operating procedure that were put in place during MCO 2.0 have been tightened in view of the current pandemic situation, ” he said at a joint press conference with Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that all of Malaysia would come under MCO until June 7 in view of a “more critical and vicious third wave” of Covid-19 infections.
Ismail Sabri said the National Security Council’s (NSC) technical committee had standardised the SOP to be used nationwide.
“People are confused about the different SOP for different levels of MCO. Now, there is a standard SOP involving ministries, permitted activities in MCO areas and general health protocols, ” he said.
The SOP for permission to operate for public and private sectors, religious activities, sports and recreational activities, creative industry, kindergarten, childcare and daycare has also been standardised.
Information on the SOP involving ministries will be available on the respective ministries’ website as well as on the NSC website.
“Some people accused the government of not being serious in tackling the pandemic. What I want to say is that when we come up with the SOP, it goes through various levels involving certain ministries and all Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers. All decisions made are based on the advice of the Health Ministry, ” he said.
Ismail Sabri said when MCO 3.0 was announced, there were those who questioned the government for not imposing regulations like during MCO 1.0 to bring down the number of cases and flatten the infection curve faster.
“The reason being is that during the first MCO, many people were economically burdened and could not continue with their livelihood. The worst affected were the petty and micro traders because we did not allow people to leave the house to carry out their business. We need to balance life and livelihood.
“It is true that it is faster to flatten the curve if the same regulations enforced during MCO 1.0 are put in place. But that does not mean that the SOP under MCO 2.0 or the one introduced for MCO 3.0 cannot do the same thing if everyone plays their part, ” he said.
He said when the MCO was enforced on March 18 last year, it was to allow the Health Ministry to carry out capacity-building and ensure a high level of preparedness at hospitals, adding that when the infectivity curve was flattened, the government had allowed social and economic activities to resume.
However, the relaxing of the SOP for social activities, reopening of more businesses, allowing interstate travel as well as the Sabah state election had led to a spike in cases, resulting in the enforcement of another round of MCO in January.
To a question, Ismail Sabri said 70 factories had been ordered closed as of May this year, following risk assessment by the Health Ministry.
As to why factories were allowed to operate when a high number of cases originated from the sector, the senior minister said that not many were aware of the fact that a number of factories were ordered to close for violating the SOP and government order.
“Most cases involving factories are because of the living conditions of their workers. That is why the government enforced the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act fast so that employers would provide suitable accommodation for their staff to prevent infectivity, ” he said.