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DG: Health system at breaking point, targeted MCO proposed

Annabelle Lee

Published
Modified 6 Jan 2021, 12:40 pm

COVID-19 | Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has sounded the alarm on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, prescribing a "targeted" version of the movement control order (MCO) to reduce the strain on the healthcare system.

Malaysia registered a record high of 2,593 cases today. Active cases now total 24,347.

During a press conference this evening, he said the healthcare system was  struggling to cope with the number of patients.

"Our health system has been pressured and we are at a breaking point because cases are increasing every day. We may not be able to accommodate patients in our facilities.

"We are looking into how we can enhance our healthcare system. But the best is not only enhancing our healthcare system... but to reduce the load," he said.

Not only were public health intervention systems like contact tracing being delayed, but Noor Hisham said they were "breaking down".

The top health official said the country needed a "circuit breaker" and had proposed that the government implement a more "targeted" version of the MCO to bring down the number of cases.

"It is a more targeted approach. Rather than (involve) the whole nation like what we did for MCO on March 18 last year.

"Now I think our strategy will change - we are more localised and targeted in terms of implementation. Discussions are ongoing and probably we will make some decisions as soon as possible," he said.

One size doesn’t fit all

Rather than the “one size fits all” approach of last year’s MCO, Noor Hisham explained that the proposed new strategy involved different rules for different states.

Travel restrictions could be imposed on areas with a high number of infections and clusters.

“We are looking at green and yellow states to see how we can protect them, and control cases from rising. This is important.

“For states that are red zones, more drastic action will be taken. We might implement more targeted (action) in those states by looking at the clusters in the state.

“We will also tighten border control by barring people from travelling across states and districts based on the latest (case) trends,” he said.

Nevertheless, the decision remained the prerogative of the legislators but Noor Hisham said he had faith in the government making the right call.

The goal of the upcoming strategy, he added, was to achieve that precious balance between lives and livelihoods.

“We need to strategise and look into the details of targeted groups, states, and districts.

“So that when we implement our strategy, the impact is high (with a) reasonable cost and a good outcome, “ he said. 

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