Keep tight MCO restrictions in place, health DG urges govt

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has advised the higher education ministry against allowing university and college students, stuck in their campuses, to return home under the third phase of the MCO.

PUTRAJAYA: Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has called for tight restrictions to be maintained under the movement control order and suggested that reopening of certain businesses be delayed.

He also advised against allowing university students to return home and said the higher education ministry should be patient.

The government has announced that certain businesses, such as barber shops, hair salons and laundries could reopen.

“Maybe the planning (to resume operations) can be made but the implementation could be postponed a little,” he said at his daily press briefing today.

He had been asked what advice the health ministry would give about the government’s plans to allow some businesses to resume operations, and whether close contact would be an issue in services such as that provided by barbers.

Noor Hisham said the measures implemented since the first and second phase of the MCO should be tightened.

He said the ministry had recommended that the measures implemented in the prior phases remain until April 28, adding that restricted movement, border control and the banning of gatherings had proven to be successful.

“What’s important is that we are combating Covid-19 and we still have not won. But we’ve shown signs of success in lowering the number of cases.

“So looking at all this, all of our measures should be tightened under Phase 3 of MCO.”

He added that the ministry will be monitoring the daily data of cases to determine if it can achieve its projection of reduced cases.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said a number of additional services will be allowed to operate, subject to strict conditions, including hair salons, hardware and laundry services.

International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali yesterday outlined the sectors which are allowed to operate. Only limited activities are allowed in certain industries.

Should students stuck in campuses be allowed to return home?

Noor Hisham urged the higher education ministry to be patient.

He said the country was in a crucial phase of the battle against the spread of Covid-19. “In at least a week, we’ll look at the latest data. Once we have the latest data, maybe then we can advise the higher education ministry on this matter again.”

Earlier today, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged the health ministry to review whether students nationwide should be allowed to return home or stay where they are during the third phase of the MCO to deter any transmission of the virus to their communities.

He said there were about 80,000 students nationwide living on campus and this figure did not include those renting rooms outside the campus.

Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad reportedly said the ministry was studying the best way for students to return to their respective homes.

She said she wanted to ensure that students were able to return in a healthy and safe condition.