LETTER | The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) supports the government’s decision to extend the movement control order (MCO) until April 28.
We recognise that Malaysians are expected to make many sacrifices in the coming weeks, especially as Ramadan, Easter, and Wesak Day will be celebrated differently this year. Therefore, we must usher in a "new normal" to care for all our citizens while ensuring that we fully eradicate Covid-19.
The MHC urges the government to consider the following additional measures during MCO phase 3:
1. Increase testing capabilities: mass testing is required for a more accurate picture of the pandemic. Testing will reduce the uncertainty around asymptomatic cases which could lead to future spikes and put frontline healthcare professionals at risk. The transparency of all testing data and information is vital for effective contact tracing and surveillance.
2. Preserve routine healthcare services: routine healthcare services during longer-term movement restrictions must be preserved. Extended physical distancing may negatively impact Malaysians’ physical and mental health, and must be addressed.
We suggest utilising technology and telecommunications infrastructures, such as telephone hotlines and video calls, as well as activating public-private partnerships in order to deliver necessary services.
3. Activate public-private partnerships: we refer to our previous statement on “Public-Private Partnerships to Fight Covid-19” (April 5). Partnerships between private and public healthcare services, from hospitals to clinics to pharmacists to laboratories, are required to provide the surge capacity to beat Covid-19.
4. Introduce risk-based guidelines for the post-MCO period: when Malaysia eventually lifts MCO restrictions, clear guidelines must be established for all sectors. A phased restart of our economy and community can utilise a colour-coded risk-based system.
For example, people living in “green” districts may be allowed to use public parks while still practising physical distancing measures. Businesses that are allowed to reopen should also be given guidelines on proper infection control methods.
5. Increase support for vulnerable communities: an extended MCO will bring economic hardship to some communities more than others. It is imperative that the food security and economic welfare of the country’s most vulnerable communities are guaranteed.
This includes, but is not limited to, the B40 economic group, Malaysia’s indigenous population, daily wage workers, immigrant populations, refugees and rural citizens.
MCO phase three will require a broader combination of health and non-health measures. This will provide the rakyat with the necessary support in establishing a "new normal" for the weeks to come.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.