Health ministry’s OK not needed to close schools, says PM

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said there is no need to wait for the health ministry’s risk assessment before closing a school. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today said the education ministry can decide whether to close schools on its own.

“We have agreed for the education ministry to issue orders to close schools if teachers or students are found to be Covid-19-positive without waiting for the health ministry’s risk assessment,” he said after chairing today’s National Security Council meeting.

This comes amid the closure of some schools after reporting Covid-19 cases.

In a statement, Muhyiddin said the decision to grant the education ministry autonomy to close schools came after a rise in Covid-19 cases in Selangor and the Federal Territories.

SK Bangsar was closed today after two pupils tested positive for Covid-19.

He said it was also agreed that the education ministry review the necessity to close all schools in Sabah due to the rising number of cases there.

The capacity of hospitals in Sabah to treat Covid-19 patients was also discussed, and the health ministry will hold talks with the army for any medical assistance the latter can offer.

Muhyiddin said the Immigration Department had been ordered to focus on the management of illegal immigrants in Sabah, which has been among the factors contributing to the spike in cases in the state.

This includes increasing the capacity of immigration detention depots to house illegal immigrants who have been detained and ensuring they are not exposed to risks of Covid-19 infections.

Muhyiddin said clusters in Kedah such as the Sivagangga, Muda and Sanglang were no longer reporting new cases, with only the Bah Sintok and Tembok clusters reporting new infections, which are being contained.

“This shows that the steps that have been taken by various agencies to stem the pandemic in Kedah are effective,” he said.