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Malaysia likely to impose fresh movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur, other areas: Report

Army and police personnel conducting roadblocks during the movement control order (MCO) in Kuala Lumpur April 19, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SINGAPORE, May 3, 2021, BT. Malaysia is likely to announce and enforce a two-week targeted movement control order (MCO) in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor and Sarawak starting Monday, The Star reported on Sunday, The Business Times reported.

It will be similar to the second MCO imposed between Jan 11 and 26 in parts of the country, whereby economic activities were allowed but schools were closed, while social and religious activities were barred, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

Under the potential new targeted MCO, no dine-in will be allowed at eateries, and Ramadan bazaars, which were allowed to operate during the fasting month, will have to close, according to The Star.

Schools in the affected states are also likely to be closed due to many “education clusters” of Covid-19 cases emerging, while economic activities can continue but working from home would be encouraged, one source noted. Social and religious functions, meanwhile, would either be put on hold or allowed with a minimal number of attendees, he added.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said over the weekend that the country’s MCO would be reviewed, especially in states that have seen a surge in the number of coronavirus infections. Premises that were visited by a large number of Covid-19 cases would be asked to close, Mr Muhyiddin said.

The country’s health minister Adham Baba on Saturday signed a gazette declaring an MCO in five districts in the Kedah state, from Sunday till May 14. Those curbs were said to be part of the proposal presented to the National Security Council on Friday, but were implemented in Kedah earlier as the situation there was “alarming”, The Star reported.

Malaysia has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, Dr Adham said on Sunday. The variant, named B.1.617, was detected in an Indian national screened at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“All public health efforts will continue in order to break the chain of infection and ensure public safety,” Dr Adham said.

Last Wednesday, Malaysia imposed a ban on flights to and from India, and prohibited travellers from any Indian destination from entering the country to prevent the spread of the new variant.

Separately, travel on compassionate grounds between Singapore and Malaysia will be allowed from May 17, amid Covid-19 restrictions that ban the bulk of cross-border movement.

The details of such travel arrangements will be released later, but these will include steps like testing visitors for Covid-19 and the need for quarantine, said Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday. He made the announcement together with his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein.

Compassionate grounds would refer to situations when people on either side request to make trips across the border to be with those who are critically ill or to attend funerals, said Mr Hishammuddin.

Malaysia reported 3,418 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing its total to 415,012 infections.

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