Success in flattening the curve . . .
Malaysia eased its lockdown today, allowing most businesses to re-open. The country initially implemented a two-week Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 16, but had to extend it due to a surge in cases. Since April, the number of daily confirmed cases has dropped below 100, although there were 105 and 122 cases, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday. Nonetheless, the government believes the country meets WHO guidelines to safely reopen the economy. To date, total cases sit at around 6,300, with 105 deaths.
All hands in to restart the economy . . .
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin stated the country needed to restart the economy to avoid adding to losses worth C$20 billion incurred over six weeks of lockdown. Under the new Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), businesses are strongly encouraged to restart operations, provided they comply with strict public health measures. For example, restaurants can serve dine-in patrons, but must space tables two meters apart. Schools and entertainment facilities remain closed. Large gatherings of a religious, social, or professional nature are still banned. Domestic travel remains restricted to work purposes, with individuals requiring a permit from the police to travel to other states. Even so, five states refused to reopen their economies, citing the need to continue efforts to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.
Lockdown not over for some . . .
In what is being called a measure to contain COVID-19, Malaysian police, the immigration department, the armed forces, and health officials rounded up and detained over 500 undocumented migrants and refugees, including children as young as four. The move incited backlash from Malaysian non-governmental organizations and international observers like Human Rights Watch. Malaysia relies on more than five million migrant workers in low-skill jobs, the majority from Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia and Myanmar. Many reside in cramped housing, have restricted access to health care, and now have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic and ensuing MCO. Advocates say that these detentions will only make migrants fearful to report health concerns, impeding Malaysia’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
- Free Malaysia Today: Conditional MCO declared from May 4 to ease lockdown
- Malay Mail: Malaysian Bar urges Putrajaya to stop rounding up undocumented migrants
- South China Morning Post: Coronavirus: Hundreds arrested as Malaysia cracks down on migrants in Covid-19 red zones