Don’t extend MCO if infection rate keeps dropping, says Sarawak activist

A Sarawak activist says the flattening curve in Covid-19 rate of infection shows it is time to allow the movement control order to expire. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: The leader of a Sarawak-based NGO has urged the government to refrain from extending the movement control order (MCO) when it ends on May 12 if the number of Covid-19 infections continues to decrease.

Komuniti Harapan Malaysia chairman Philip Wong told FMT he believed the government should consider the economic consequences of an extended MCO.

But he said his main concern was the survival of small businesses and the livelihood of people working for them.

“The government’s financial aid is only for the short term,” he said. “We have been under the MCO for almost two months and small retail businesses, including coffee shops and restaurants, have been affected badly.

“We are concerned that the MCO will be further extended despite the fact that new infection rates are low.

“In fact, the health director-general has said that we have successfully flattened the curve.”

However, he called for the continuation of measures to curb the spread of the virus, such as screening and contact tracing and insistence that people observe social distancing and strict personal hygiene.

“We must understand that saving lives is important and must be prioritised, but we must also consider making practical decisions on the country’s economy and the people’s livelihood,” he said.

Another NGO, Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose), urged the government to work with experts in various fields to come up with recommendations on how people should conduct their lives and how business should be done after the MCO ends.

“We all know that the MCO will not see the complete eradication of Covid-19,” Rose chairman Ann Teo said. “It will only buy us more time and lessen the fatalities.

“Yet the authorities have not given any sign that it has a strategy for the post-MCO period and this is worrying.

“To start the ball rolling, my suggestion would be to open up industries or business activities in the green zones but for divisional borders to be closed or for inter-divisional or inter-district movements to be closely monitored.

“We know there is no precedent but we can learn from other countries on how to restart our economy and resume our lives.”

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