What went wrong? Resident speaks from total lockdown in Simpang Renggam

A part of Kampung Dato Ibrahim Majid, which has been put under total lockdown. On the left is Masjid al-Huda, where some who returned from the KL tabligh gathering had been.

PETALING JAYA: Residents of two kampungs are denying that the unusual spike in Covid-19 cases was caused by them flouting movement control order (MCO) rules.

The two areas in Johor are now enduring total lockdown under a beefed up enhanced movement control order (Emco), which began last night and is scheduled to last until April 9.

Some 3,500 people from 650 families in Kampung Dato Ibrahim Majid and Bandar Baharu Dato Ibrahim Majid, both located in Simpang Renggam, Kluang, will now spend the whole two weeks under total lockdown, barred from venturing out of their homes, not even to buy essential items like the rest of the nation.

Authorities justified the move, saying 61 of the 83 Covid-19 cases reported in Kluang were found to have originated from these two areas.

Among those affected is 26-year-old Intan Nurdiyana Masekh.

But she denied that the virus spread because residents flouted the original MCO.

“It seems like many are judging us kampung folk, accusing us of being stubborn and flouting the MCO,” she told FMT while being cooped up in her house.

“After the MCO began, it was very lonely. There was not a soul who left their homes.”

She also denied any chaos. “Of course, in our community WhatsApp groups there are a few who are worried.”

She said the anxiety is justified as many residents are at-risk senior citizens. She herself lives with her elderly parents, her husband and children.

Workers in hazmat suits disinfect an eatery in Simpang Renggam. (Majlis Perbandaran Simpang Renggam pic)

“We are worried, because many of us here are old. The community is close-knit and before the Covid-19 crisis, the mosque was always full with Quran recital classes, celebrations, and meetings of all kinds at the community hall.

“The situation has become sad because our neighbours have died, but what can we do besides pray from home?”

There are also questions regarding reports that two religious teachers from the local surau, Masjid al-Huda, were among those who attended the tabligh convention in Sri Petaling mosque – widely seen as the epicentre of the Covid-19 cases in the country.

On returning home they started teaching religious classes and leading congregational prayers at the surau. They also attended a local wedding.

But it was a time when Malaysians were still not clear about the severity of Covid-19, and movement restrictions and bans on gatherings had not yet been announced.

From March 16, the health ministry surveyed the whole village, going door-to-door to screen everyone.

“They checked our identities and asked about the number of people in each household. Those at most risk were taken into quarantine,” said Intan.

Intan organised her family’s food supply as soon as the MCO was announced. “We have bought food to last us for a month because we are terrified of leaving the house,” she said.

Throughout the additional stringent restrictions under the Emco lockdown, authorities will distribute basic food and necessities to all residents in the two affected areas.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far claimed 23 lives in Malaysia, with over 2,000 warded in hospitals nationwide.