KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tonight outlined several key measures to be taken to counter the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Aware that Malaysia is now facing a spike in cases following a second wave of the disease, the prime minister said the government will increase the number of hospitals to treat Covid-19 cases.
Besides identifying the Sungai Buloh hospital and one hospital in each state as dedicated hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients, he said to date, a total of 26 government hospitals and a university hospital – the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) – have the capability of handling Covid-19 cases.
“Besides this, there are 57 government hospitals and 170 health clinics throughout the country ready to conduct health screenings on those with Covid-19 symptoms,” the prime minister said in a special address to the nation that was telecast live on television stations.
He said collaboration with private hospitals, hospitals under the Defence Ministry and university hospitals has commenced as preparation to take in additional Covid-19 cases.
Muhyiddin said the government will also boost laboratory testing facilities for Covid-19, including 22 laboratories under the Health Ministry and other laboratories under the Defence Ministry and the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.
Despite various efforts taken to curb its spread, Malaysia is now facing a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, with 175 positive cases recorded from the second wave.
There were 22 cases when the first wave hit beginning Jan 25.
On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic after a drastic increase in the number of cases globally.
The prime minister said the government is aware that one key preventive measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 is through travel restrictions.
“The Government will continue its travel restrictions on the three provinces in China which are Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang; Hokkaido in Japan, Italy, Iran and the Republic of Korea. Malaysians are also advised not to travel to countries affected by Covid-19,” he said.
In the 12-minute long address, Muhyiddin also said that cruise vessels will only be allowed to dock at Malaysian ports for supply replenishing purposes, while only Malaysian crew members will be allowed to disembark, after which they would still have to undergo health screenings.
He said the Perikatan Nasional government was extremely concerned with the fate of Malaysians currently in countries badly affected by the pandemic, such as China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
Muhyiddin said the Malaysian government had mobilised two Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions to Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei, the first on Feb 4 that brought home 107 Malaysians and their non-Malaysian spouses and children, and the second on Feb 26 that saw 68 Malaysians and their non-Malaysian spouses and children brought home.
“A total of 65 Malaysians in Iran and 323 more in Italy are in the process of being brought home,” Muhyiddin said.
Touching on Malaysians’ concerns on the second wave, the prime minister said he is given a daily briefing on the Covid-19 situation by the Special Committee led by the Health Ministry in order for new measures to be taken for possibilities.
“Facing this situation, I advise all of you to take preventive measures to protect you and your family against this disease.
“The main thing is to practise high levels of hygiene, such as personal cleanliness, the use of face masks and hand sanitisers and to reduce touch contact and handshakes,” he said.
Muhyiddin said the government had also decided that all gatherings, including international meetings, sport, social and religious events will be postponed or cancelled until April 30, after which the decision will be reviewed.
He also assured Malaysians that there are enough essential goods, while also assuring parents with school-going children that the Education Ministry has taken necessary preventive measures, including cancelling all forms of gatherings.
“I would like to thank all health personnel, public servants and all those who have been directly involved in the effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“I pray that this outbreak will be contained very soon and all of us will be able to safely carry on with our lives with our families,” he said. – Bernama