Muhyiddin says Malaysia not rushing to reopen borders as Covid-19 has not slowed down

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday (Sept 15) urged Malaysians to remain vigilant against Covid-19 infections, as the pandemic hasn’t shown signs of slowing down around the world, though the disease remains under control in the country.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin said Malaysia won’t be rushing to reopen its borders as it tries to keep out the chain of infections.

“Don’t feel awkward wearing it (face mask). The usage of face masks has become common in society. We must all play the role of the ‘front-line officers’ and continue to adopt the new normal in life,” he said in a televised address ahead of the Malaysia Day celebration on Wednesday.

Malaysia has generally shut its borders to international travellers since March. Those allowed to fly into Malaysia are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“The country’s border control will also be further enhanced to curb the influx of potentially infected individuals into our country,” he said.

Although strict border control has imposed difficulties on those with business abroad, Mr Muhyiddin said stern action must be taken to protect the people and country from the life-threatening epidemic.

“We need to balance between the need to protect lives and the lives of Malaysians. We must strike a fine balance between protecting the lives and livelihoods of all Malaysians… Therefore, the government will not rush to open our borders,” he said.

He said although Malaysia has done well in managing the spread of Covid-19, the sudden surge of cases recently has left him worried.

“Over the past 14 days, a total of 615 cases have been recorded. This increase also saw three districts recording 41 cases or more over the last 14 days,” he said, referring to Kota Setar district in Kedah state, along with Tawau and Lahad Datu in Sabah.

Malaysia reported 182 cases last Friday, the highest in three months since June 4, when 277 cases were recorded.

The spike was caused by several clusters in the three districts.

Malaysia first imposed the movement curbs on March 18. The country will continue with the imposition of strict health protocols until Dec 31, following an extension announced by Mr Muhyiddin on Aug 28.

Under the ongoing recovery movement control order (MCO) that began on June 10, most businesses have been allowed to reopen but they must follow protocols such as recording the temperatures of visitors to their premises and imposing social distancing.

Nightclubs and pubs remain shut under the recovery MCO, with the authorities saying it would be impossible to ensure health protocols such as social distancing at such outlets.

Malaysia on Aug 1 made it compulsory for everyone to wear face masks in crowded public places and on public transport, after the authorities observed lower compliance of social distancing when it entered the recovery phase of the movement curbs.

Malaysia on Tuesday reported 23 new Covid-19 cases to bring total infections to 9,969. The total death toll caused by the virus remained at 128.

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