KUALA LUMPUR – On May 22, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has sounded the alarm over the latest surge of COVID-19 cases, urging Malaysians to practice self-lockdown to ease the burden on the healthcare system.
He said the high number of new COVID-19 cases, with cases currently exceeding 6,000 daily, was a result of gatherings and social activities in public areas which took place before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“ICUs nationwide have reached 91% capacity. In the Klang Valley alone, it is at 113%,” he said, adding that the ICU capacity in private hospitals have also reached 60%.
“Help the health ministry by practicing self-lockdowns for two weeks to help us break the chain of infections,” he said. “We are not going to succeed without cooperation from all Malaysians in urban and rural areas to comply with the rules and stay at home.”
Noor Hisham said the health ministry was stockpiling medical equipment and working on increasing capacity at public hospitals to accommodate the increasing number of patients.
Emergency departments in certain public hospitals will be transformed into ICUs, while private hospitals would also be offering a total of 124 beds for patients in critical condition.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has also urged the public to practice self-lockdown so as to prevent a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections.
“Some keep asking why not implement a total lockdown? Do your own lockdown, stay at home and tell others to do the same thing.
“The best is we cooperate, no need to blame each other, find a way, pray that we will be protected and this way, Insya Allah, we will win,” he said in a “Special Discussion on the Challenges of COVID-19 with the Prime Minister” broadcast over RTM and Bernama TV on May 23.
According to the Prime Minister, a balance between lives and livelihood had to be taken into account in deciding on the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to ensure that the people are not badly affected by the measures taken by the government.
That is why the government decided not to enforce total lockdown this time, like during MCO 1.0, because it would affect the people and cause more of them to lose their jobs, besides causing them to be unable to rise and revive their lives and the economy.
Muhyiddin said the closure of all economic sectors during MCO 1.0 from March 18 to May 3, 2020, to curb the spread of COVID-19 not only resulted in the country losing about RM2.4 billion a day, but many people also lost their jobs while petty traders were also badly affected.
He said that if the government re-introduced MCO 1.0, the country would probably require up to RM500,000,000,000 or half-a-trillion ringgit to help the people and revive the nation’s economy.
The Prime Minister emphasised that efforts to flatten the curve of the pandemic was the responsibility of everyone, saying: “accept the fact that this is our problem, our approach is not whole of government, it is whole of society”.