Lockdown 2021: MCO 3.0 – Will It Be Effective Reducing COVID19 Cases?

COVID19 Lockdown MCO Malaysia Health

As of 11th May 2021, Malaysia saw 3,807 new infection cases with 3.454 cases recovered and 17 deaths. On the first day of MCO 3.0, the number went up to 4,765 new infections and 39 deaths. In total, we had 1,761 Malaysians died from COVID19 todate. Image source: MOH

Looking at the recent COVID19 numbers, the Prime Minister on 10th May 2021 announced Movement Control Order (MCO) for the whole country and this came a week after the government had announced MCO for the state of Selangor.

The MCO 3.0 will run from 12th May 2021 to 7th June 2021. It was necessary considering we will be having major holidays this week which is likely to spike up the numbers.

Read these first:-

MCO Traffic Jam Bentong Health COVID19

This snapshot of CCTV as of 8th May 2021 makes one wonder what happened to the interstate travel ban. Just wonder the number of cars that is not using the main, well-known highways and trying to enter another state. Image source: Berita Harian

COVID19 Situation with Major Holidays

The moment people are allowed to move around in large numbers and allowed to gather in large number, the number of COVID19 cases spikes up considerably. This has been seen in last year’s after the Sabah Election and also around the world like in Italy. So enforcing another MCO for this coming Hari Raya is the right way to go with the same done last year.

Malaysia was able to avoid having a spike in Covid-19 cases last year after Hari Raya by taking steps such as not holding open houses, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah pointed out today.

Dr Noor Hisham then urged Malaysians to help ensure that hospitals would not be forced into a situation of choosing which patient lives or dies when Intensive Care Unit (ICUs) beds run out, by not holding “superspreader” social events and complying with Covid-19 precautions.

“We must try to avoid superspreader events like weddings, funerals So all superspreader events, we should not allow it to take place at least for now, two weeks and four weeks, this is a very crucial two weeks and four weeks for us to contain the infection,” he said, noting that weddings and funerals had been documented to be superspreader events where a high number of individuals become infected.

He urged Malaysians not to carry out open houses for Raya celebrations, which is not allowed at all nationwide by the government for this year.

“Stay at home if possible, have an in-house Hari Raya, no open house, but an in-house Hari Raya among yourself.

“Because now the cases are very high, if you are infected, come to the hospital, if we do not have ICU beds, we are in trouble.

“So then, we don’t want to end up like countries, where we have to select who will live and who will die,” he said.

“At the moment we still have the capacity, but we urge all Malaysians to make sure you comply with SOPs, because we are in a critical position. Public hospitals, private hospitals — we are running out of ICUs and ICU beds.

(Source)

The last thing we need is our hospitals running out of ICU rooms and beds and the medical frontliners having to decide who will live and who will die. We already seeing such cases in India where family members infected with COVID9 being turned away from hospitals because the hospitals are already run out of beds and oxygen tanks.

 

HIDE List – Did They Jump The Gun?

Whilst the usual SOPs under the MCO being enforced, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation came up with a rather unusual list called Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) which identifies potential hotspots.

But then again, it was unusual and strange because these are expected places where a large number of people is expected to go but it does not mean it will be a major COVID19 hotspot.

Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) has been urged to immediately suspend announcing any more information derived from the Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system until clear, accurate and precise basis are accompanied with the information to be released.

The call was made by three associations representing the shopping mall and retail industries nationwide in a joint statement today, namely Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks Malaysia) (PPK), Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) and Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA).

“We believe that in view of the inaccurate information on the hotspot listing, this call to close for sanitisation is premature and will cause irreversible damage to perception and business recovery and survival.

“This proposed closure should be held in abeyance until the data used in HIDE has been confirmed accurate and the hotspot locations are accurately identified,” they said.

Earlier, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said premises including Ramadan bazaars listed under HIDE system as Covid-risk locations in the spread of the disease will be ordered to be closed for three days effective immediately.

Earlier the government had produced the first HIDE list of business premises identified as Covid-19 hotspots with potential risk to spread the pandemic.

The associations also emphasise and reiterate that the safety of shoppers is top priority at shopping malls and with all required SOPs in place including enhanced and regular cleaning and sanitisation measures, malls are safe places to visit. — Bernama

(Source)

Basically, all hypermarkets and shopping complexes are listed in the HIDE list BUT not all of the Ramadan Bazaars which has higher chances of triggering a higher chance of infections was listed. A surprisingly the government ordered a 3 days immediate closure of the premises listed in the HIDE list which was rather last-minute and does not take into consideration if these premises already enforced the required SOPs.

A major hypermarket near my house was on the list and the sudden order for closure left my planned shopping for groceries for the week disrupted and I had to look for other places to get the sundry items. In the end, I found a free slot on their delivery website and got my orders confirmed online and delivered directly to the house.

Realistically this HIDE list should not be published to the masses as it will present the wrong impression despite the fine line of words explaining the reason for coming up with the HIDE list.

Instead, it should have been used internally by the various enforcement agencies to keep a closer look at the scope of enforcement and adherence to SOP. This preventive measure is more effective than just realising it to the general public who will take the list wrongly and cause the businesses to suffer massive losses.

MCO COVID19 Health Infographic Outbreak

The number has just continued to increase since we encountered COVID19 back in January 2020 and despite the numerous rulings, regulations and vaccination program set forward by the government, it is getting worse in 2021. Image source: Malay Mail

MCO 2.0 Was Not A Failure

The ex-Prime Minister Najib correctly asked if we can expect different results by doing the same thing over and over again.

That was the same question that many asked considering that we had various forms of MCO since last year March with MCO, CMCO, RMCO and EMCO. And now we have MCO 3.0 but with business as usual for most of the economic sector. Will this make a big difference now?

The second nationwide movement control order or MCO 2.0 in Malaysia was not a failure as the country succeeded in avoiding a US institute’s predictions of daily 20,000 new Covid-19 cases, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stressed today.

With parts of Malaysia now under the third edition of MCO or MCO 3.0 and with some others coming under the same restrictions in the coming days, Dr Noor Hisham today sought to dispel the idea that the previous MCO 2.0 was not effective.

Instead, Dr Noor Hisham touted the success of MCO 2.0.

In comparison to the strict MCO 1.0 nationwide which he acknowledged may have had overly-tight restrictions where only essential services were allowed even in “green” states that had no new Covid-19 cases, Dr Noor Hisham said the MCO 2.0 took a different approach in order to balance between life and livelihood, and between health and economy.

Under MCO 2.0 where the economic sector was largely allowed to operate but with restrictions on the social, education, sports and religious sectors, Dr Noor Hisham said it had worked in bringing down the number of new Covid-19 cases recorded daily.

Noting that Malaysia had peaked at a record high of 5,728 daily new cases on January 30 this year, Dr Noor Hisham said that the daily number of new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia may have hit five-figure sums such as 10,000 or 20,000 if Malaysia had not implemented the MCO 2.0 on January 13.

“The prediction or report by the US’ Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation had predicted that Malaysia would record 20,000 (daily) cases in the early week of March, but it is clear we did not hit 20,000 (daily) cases,” he said.

Following MCO 2.0’s imposition on January 13, Dr Noor Hisham noted that the daily number of Covid-19 cases had peaked at the end of January and that such numbers had continued to fall for six weeks.

(Source)

COVID19 SOP Breach Health MCO Outbreak

Despite the higher punishment effective from March 2021, there are still plenty of people who care less about observing the SOP and some even get away with it because of their social standing. Image source: Bernama

Blatant Abuse of the SOPs

Generally, everyone is aware of the deadly COVID19 virus and is aware of the need to meet the SOPs.

So when the government announces MCO, everyone despite the economic & travel hardships, truly understands why the announcements were made. Then news of blatant abuse of the SOPs by some politicians, artists and VVIPs started to creep in and the social media went wild with allegations of double standards.

Some of the recent famous incidents were:-

Malaysian entrepreneur Neelofa Mohd Noor and her preacher husband PU Riz reportedly spent RM10,000 on carpets during a recent shopping spree in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.

A worker at the Nilai 3 Business Centre branch of Naeem Carpet, known only as Hussein, spilt details about the couple’s Sunday visit, which is currently under investigation for breaching Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The couple is being investigated for allegedly crossing state borders for the shopping trip, which was not allowed under the conditional movement control order (CMCO) at the time.

The controversy comes barely a week after Neelofa and her family were fined RM60,000 for defying Covid-19 SOPs at her wedding in March and a cross-border trip she made with PU Riz to Langkawi shortly after.

(Source)

And this:-

Siti came under scrutiny this week after she shared photos of her son’s tahnik ceremony on Instagram and tagged several of the guests in attendance.

Some of the guests were suspected of making cross-border trips to attend the event which was held at Siti and her husband Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa’s home in Ampang.

She later issued a media statement claiming that no interstate travel was conducted and that a guest who lives in Terengganu just happened to be in Kuala Lumpur on the day of the event.

Police then opened up an investigation into the tahnik ceremony on Monday after receiving reports that it had violated Covid-19 SOPs.

(Source)

And this:-

Azmin went to the Middle East from 27 April to 4 May and netizens were upset after it was found that the minister had failed to observe the standard quarantine procedure upon returning from his overseas trip.

He has attended meetings and even went to the Putrajaya IPD to hand out donations and met with the Putrajaya Chief Police since returning.

Even Azmin’s estranged brother, Azwan Ali, was not too happy with his actions. Some even pointed out that he had came back from a place which has a new COVID-19 variant while others accused the Gombak MP of practising double standards.

(Source)

Of course, there are incidents of strict enforcement like this:-

The police have decided to issue two fines totalling RM3,000 against former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak for violating the standard operating procedures (SOPs) against Covid-19, while the chicken rice shop he visited was slapped with a RM10,000 compound.

Najib was fined for failing to register his presence at Restoran Nasi Ayam Hainan Chee Meng in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, and also not scanning his temperature when entering the premises.

(Source)

Final Say

Despite MCO in place and inter-district & interstate travel ban have been enforced rather strictly, there is no substantial reduction in the number of infections. Add this with the number of people vaccinated and more in the pipeline (this includes Sinovac vaccines which will be available from this week).

Unlike MCO 1.0, the subsequent MCOs including MCO 3.0 saw the most businesses are still opened as usual. The problem is there are more people not following the SOP including simple ones like wearing a mask when they are out in the public and maintaining social distancing.

And I am pretty sure that most of them also no longer wash their hands with soap or applies hand sanitiser whenever they come back from outside.

These people stubborn, selfish are only looking for trouble and they may also cause others to be infected with COVID19. The worst ones are the VVIPs who think that they can get away and often they do except the time they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar and the news goes viral on social media.

The application of the punishment for breaking the SOP unfortunately has not been consistent with the government making announcements without proper study and sight of the implications. There have been too many u-turns and conflicting instructions.

Such was the case when they announced MCO for the state of Selangor but did not do the same for the Federal Territory despite all the red zones districts surrounding it. Jokes started to appear on social media that the COVID19 knows when to stop at the border.

Ramadan bazaars were forced to close to contain new infections but in some places, it was left open and breach of SOP was too obvious. Yes, they measure their temperature and register at the entrance but all it takes is for one person to be the super spreader. The police at the roadblocks had reported hundreds of cars trying to cross state with flimsy excuses & without any approval despite the well-informed travel ban.

Given the number and the effectiveness of past MCOs, it is unlikely that MCO 3.0 will make any difference in the total number of COVID19 infections. The only way now is to speed up the COVID19 vaccination to as many Malaysians as possible and as fast as possible.

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