KUALA LUMPUR – More than a third of Malaysia’s population will be placed under movement restrictions for two weeks as coronavirus cases continue to soar in the country following a recent outbreak from a state election.
The conditional movement control order (CMCO) for the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, and Selangor state – the country’s most populous region and main economic hub – will begin at 12.01am on Wednesday (Oct 14) and will last until Oct 27, said Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Monday.
The entire state of Sabah, which had the state election that led to the upsurge of infections, will also come under CMCO, beginning at midnight on Tuesday.
“To prevent further spreading of the infection, the National Security Council has agreed to impose the conditional MCO in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya,” said Datuk Seri Ismail on Monday at his regular Covid-19 briefing. “This will come into force from midnight Oct 14 until Oct 27.”
The Selangor state government, which is controlled by the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition, has called the decision “shocking” and has asked the National Security Council (NSC) to reconsider its decision.
“The result of the meeting earlier showed that only Klang, Gombak, Hulu Langat and Petaling districts had worrying amount of cases,” Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said in a statement.
He said that the state will write to the NSC to reconsider its decision to impose a blanket CMCO on Selangor, Malaysia’s richest state and home to 6.5 million people.
The CMCO ended four months ago on June 10, when Malaysia began the “recovery MCO” by reopening most businesses and allowing social activities.
The recovery MCO is still generally in place currently.
The movement restrictions will impact some 7.6 million residents in the Klang Valley – as Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor districts are often called – consisting of 23 per cent of Malaysia’s 32 million population.
Sabah has a population of 3.5 million, bringing the total number of Malaysians affected by the CMCO to 11 million, or 30 per cent of the country’s population.
“All economic activities in the Selangor, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur are still allowed,” Mr Ismail Sabri said.
He said that social activities and cross-district travels are not allowed.
Only two individuals are allowed to leave a house at a time. Those who have to cross district lines for work are required to show their work passes.
He said further details of CMCO will be announced by the NSC.
Malaysia last Tuesday reported 691 new Covid-19 infections in a day, a new high for the country.
On Monday, 563 cases were logged, the second-highest daily tally.
Malaysia on Sunday had a cumulative total of 16,220 cases, with 5,039 active cases. Two more deaths were reported, to raise the total to 159.
After previously bringing the case numbers down, Malaysia has consistently recorded three-digit daily infections from Oct 1.
Travel restrictions were placed in parts of Sabah since the beginning of the month, while several malls around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor started reporting positive cases among its workers. This led to one of them being told to shutter for an entire week, starting on Monday, for health checks on mall workers and disinfection work.
The latest wave was caused by the two-week campaigning that preceded the Sept 26 Sabah state polls, which drew politicians and election workers from all over Malaysia to the country’s easternmost state.
At that time, Sabah was already suffering from a coronavirus upsurge after an outbreak at a detention centre for illegal migrants.
The politicians and election workers have been blamed for bringing the virus back with them to Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.
Under the previous CMCO, most industries were allowed to continue operations as long as they took healthcare precautions such as taking temperatures of workers and practising social distancing.
But places of worship, schools and kindergartens were shut and sporting activities banned. The authorities mounted roadblocks to curb vehicular travel.