Brace for longer MCO, says medical group

The movement control order, which came into effect on March 18, could be extended beyond its stated expiration date of March 31.

KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the people to prepare for the likelihood that the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid 19 will be extended beyond its expiration date of March 31.

MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran said this would be the next logical step for the government in the event that more cases of infection are reported.

“If cases continue to rise at the current rate, we believe the government may have no choice but to extend the MCO,” he told FMT.

“We have to anticipate that the MCO will be extended. In fact, the prime minister and health director-general have announced that it is likely.”

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that the National Security Council would study on March 30 the need to extend the MCO by one or two weeks.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah meanwhile announced a spike of 212 new cases, bringing the total number in the country to 1,518.

Malaysia has recorded 14 deaths due to the virus including four yesterday – the most fatalities in a single day so far.

Ganabaskaran said one of the main goals of the MCO is to prevent huge spikes in infections.

“If this happens, public healthcare facilities will be overwhelmed,” he said.

“With this MCO, cases are still manageable.”

The whole idea of the MCO, he added, is to keep people away from large crowds to prevent mass infections.

He urged the people to continue practising social distancing, especially if they have elderly family members living in the same household.

He added that the government should have measures in place in the event that there is no improvement and the MCO is extended.

“Financial issues, loss of income, shortage of healthcare, personal protective equipment and medicine supplies, food supply and other issues need to be looked into and addressed.”

Peter Voo, an associate professor at Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s faculty of psychology and education, said most people appeared to be coping well with the MCO which is entering its second week.

“Of course, there will be some psychological effects such as boredom and stress when a person’s movement is restricted, as they are unable to carry out their daily routines.

“But we have yet to reach the level of a curfew. The MCO can teach society to be disciplined and to understand the importance of the order,” he told FMT.

He said people are likely to fare better if they are in a family environment where they feel secure and at home.

“Don’t underestimate things you find trivial such as cooking, cleaning the house or watching movies.

“When done together, they are a powerful tool for family bonding.”

He said the MCO would be more difficult for single people although they have the technology to connect remotely with family members.

“There will come a time when they will long for the human touch and direct interaction with other people.”