Public activities suspended until March 31

KUALA LUMPUR: This page was live. The following were updates and latest developments on Covid-19 on March 16, 2020.

10:26pm: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has ordered a partial lockdown of all public activities in the country from Wednesday until March 31. The government has issued a Movement Control Order calling for these measures:

  1. Ban on all religious, sporting, social and cultural gatherings. All business and religious premises to close. Exemption on groceries, public markets, provision stores. Restriction on mosques and Islamic events subject to Muzakarah meeting.
  2. Nationwide travel restrictions on all citizens. Those who have just arrived from abroad must undergo self-quarantine.
  3. All tourists and visitors barred from entry.
  4. All public and private schools including kindergartens, nurseries, residential school and other educational institutions to close.
  5. All private and public higher institutions of learning to close.
  6. Closure of all government and private premises except essential services such as water and electricity, telecommunication, postal service, transport, fuel, gas, lubrication, broadcasting, banking, health, pharmacy, fire-fighting, ports, airports, prisons, security and defence, sanitary services, provision and food supply.

10.14pm: Kindergartens and all schools, government or private, will be closed during this period. The closure includes boarding, international, tahfiz, primary, secondary and pre-university schools.

Colleges and universities and technical training institutes are also to be closed during this period.

10.14pm: All Malaysians are barred from leaving the country, while those returning from overseas are to conduct a period of self-quarantine for 14 days. Tourists and foreign visitors are also barred from entering the country.

10.09pm: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced a movement restriction order in the country, effective March 18 until March 31 in a special address tonight. The action is taken to control the spread of Covid-19 infections. He urged the public to stay calm. “Do not panic,” he said.

Mass gatherings for religious, sports, social and cultural activities are suspended. Businesses and houses of worship are to remain closed, except for supermarkets, markets, sundry shops and mini markets.

10pm: PBS president Maximus Ongkili says all branch annual meetings will be suspended,  in line with advice from the health ministry to call off all gatherings, meetings, sporting events, social and religious assemblies until April 30 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

9.38pm: Public servants have been ordered to work from home to reduce the risks of spreading Covid-19 and enable department heads to manage officers who are suspected of contracting the virus.

Public Service Department director-general Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman announced this in a statement tonight, along with a guideline on managing the virus, which extends to the state civil service, statutory bodies and local authorities.

8.15pm: China to supply medical equipment

China will be supplying medical equipment to help Malaysia combat the Covid-19 outbreak, according to Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said the equipment will include ventilators, face masks, testing kits and sanitisers.

7.30pm: Sabah reports 8 new cases, total now 57

Sabah reported eight new Covid-9 cases today, bringing the total to 57.

Lahad Datu has the highest number of cases with 15 (with one new case reported today), Tawau 11 (three new cases), Sandakan four (two new cases), Tuaran four (one new case) and Beaufort two (one new case).

The number of cases in Kinabatangan remains at five, Kota Kinabalu nine, Kunak and Putatan two each, and Kota Belud, Papar and Sipitang one each.

The empty State Administrative Complex in Kota Kinabalu today.

No visitors were allowed at the State Administrative Complex today. There were fire drill signs put at the entrance, although the state secretary’s office had released a statement yesterday saying the building would be closed for disinfection after one of its maintenance workers had allegedly been hospitalised for Covid-19.

6.40pm: Malaysians don’t seem too serious, says Dr M

Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterates the health ministry’s advice to the nation in a special message on Facebook, urging the people to take precautionary measures since there is no vaccine yet

He says Malaysians do not seem serious about handling the issue, and warns that the virus is “extraordinary” and can lead to many deaths if not careful.

“A lot must be done not only by the government but even ourselves to stay safe from the virus,” the former prime minister says.

6.08pm: Friday prayers, mosque activities in FT suspended for 10 days

All mosque and surau activities, including Friday prayers, in the Federal Territories have been suspended for 10 days from tomorrow.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri also said mosques and suraus are urged to disinfect their premises.

5:37pm: Govt to ensure continuous supply of essential items

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says he has instructed the consumer affairs and domestic trade ministry to ensure a continuous supply of essential food items.

On panic buying, he says: “Just to be truthful, do not worry so much. There is enough food around.” He says there is no indication that food is running out and advises the public to buy and stock only what is necessary.

Muhyiddin says the matter will be addressed in more detail in an announcement tonight.

5.35pm: Govt to appoint 830 contract nurses

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba says the government will appoint 830 contract nurses nationwide on a two-year contract to help in the Covid-19 fight.

5:30pm: PM announces cash assistance, to make major announcement

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin refuses to say whether the government will impose a lockdown. He said an announcement will be made tonight.

He also announced RM600 in monthly cash aid for every worker forced to go on unpaid leave from March 1. The cash aid will continue for six months.

The aid is also eligible for contributors to the Employee Insurance Scheme (EIS) with a monthly salary of not more than RM4,000.

About 33,000 workers are targeted with RM120 million allocated.

5.27pm Health Minister Dr Adham Baba says to wait for an announcement tonight from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on whether a lockdown will be announced over the Covid-19 outbreak.

He says the health ministry has enough infectious disease specialists in all states across the country.

He says 12 Covid-19 patients are being treated in the ICU, an increase of three from yesterday. All three are linked to the Sri Petaling mosque cluster.

He also says over 7,000 attendees of the Sri Petaling missionary convention have undergone screening for Covid-19.

5.22pm: 125 new patients, Covid-19 cases now 553

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba has announced 125 new Covid-19 cases today, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 553.

He said 95 of the latest cases were linked to the Sri Petaling Mosque cluster, referring to the gathering of the Muslim missionary group two weeks ago.

5.10pm: Share information, Sabah opposition tells govt

Sabah opposition leaders want the state government to share information on the Covid-19 outbreak, saying they are unhappy with how authorities are handling the situation.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee said information sharing is crucial, especially with the media, so that they are able to report and update the public with the correct information.

“The Sabah government needs a transparent, systematic and comprehensive approach in such public health matters,” Yong said.

5:00pm: Private unis stop classes

Several private universities have called off lectures. Multimedia University has implemented online learning while INTI begins online classes tomorrow at all campuses. Taylor’s will also roll out online classes from March 23 onwards. Meanwhile, the International Medical University (IMU) has cancelled classes for the week. Monash University postponed its orientation programmes for new intakes, and its students are allowed to skip lectures.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at Komtar today.
Penang government information officers handing out face masks to reporters at a press conference in Komtar today.

4.57pm: Penang cancels all public events

All public events, including those held by the government, will be cancelled. All public places including schools and government agencies are required to provide hand sanitisers and check the temperatures of those entering the building.

Five night markets in Bukit Tambun have also been ordered to “take a break” – Tangling (20/3 & 27/3 Fridays); Bakap Indah (21/3 Saturday); Kampung Baru (22/3 Sunday); Merak Jaya (23/3 & 30/3 Mondays) and Kampung Valdor (26/3 & 2/4 Thursdays).

4.50pm: Sarawak braces for Covid-19

All foreign and local visitors who enter the state will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice beginning Wednesday.

All kindergartens, childcare centres and tahfiz schools will be closed for two weeks from tomorrow while institutions of higher education, both government and private, will defer their new academic sessions by two weeks.

Public sports facilities including swimming pools, stadiums and gymnasiums will be closed until further notice while government functions involving over 50 people will be scrapped.

People crowd a supermarket to stock up on essential goods, one of many in the Klang Valley which has seen long queues since this morning.

Shelves swept clean as panic buying hits a supermarket in a PJ mall.

4:20pm: Panic buying grips major cities

Major cities and towns in the Klang Valley have been gripped by panic buying as people rush to stock up on their daily necessities in the wake of speculation that authorities might impose a lockdown to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.