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May 14, 2020 / 08:14

Breaking the chain of infections: Malaysia’s strategy against Covid-19

The Malaysian government’s actions are proving effective in curbing the spread and intensity of the pandemic.

Malaysia, the country that was successful in tackling the first wave of the pandemic until early March, has controlled the virus thanks to its main strategy that is breaking the chain of infections.

 Dato’ Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa, ambassador of Malaysia to Vietnam. Photo: Embassy of Malaysia in Vietnam

Dato’ Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa, ambassador of Malaysia to Vietnam, shared with Hanoitimes know how the country’s decisive and effective measures work.

“Malaysia’s main strategy in combating this invisible enemy is by breaking the chain of infection,” the ambassador said, referring to the Movement Control Order (MCO).

 Malaysians are seen wearing face masks amid the Covid-19 outbreak, near Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC). Photo: Firdaus Latif

“We had first enforced the MCO from March 18, 2020, and it has since been extended until May 12, 2020. In the early stages of the implementation of the MCO, people could not fully comprehend the logic behind such an initiative.

Police and army personnel at a roadblock on the Federal Highway following the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia. Photo: The Star 

Before such measures came into effect, a significant number of Malaysians even traveled out of major city centers in Malaysia back to their hometowns considering that under the MCO, only essential services were allowed to be in operation, while non-essential services are barred from operating. Besides this exodus of people from major cities in Malaysia, members of the public were seen going out and about. The Malaysian authorities toiled laboriously and diligently in order to educate citizens on the MCO.

 Malaysia Airlines staff checking the temperature of passengers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Photo: AFP

Nonetheless, as Malaysia enters the third stage in the implementation of the MCO (April 15-28, 2020), people have begun to accept the ‘new normal’. We could notice that roads and streets are cleared of people and vehicles.

 A woman wearing a face mask walks in front of the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: CNN

In addition to the implementation of the MCO, Malaysia’s Ministry of Health asked the public to get tested for Covid-19 as a means of ensuring that Malaysia is on the right path to be truly free from COVID-19. So far, Malaysia’s testing capacity for Covid-19 currently stands at around 11,500 samples per day, with an initial target of a maximum capacity of 16,500 Covid-19 tests per day nationwide.

 Quiet streets of Kuala Lumpur during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period. Photo: Bernama

Hence, with strict enforcement, tireless effort by front-liners and positive cooperation from the people of Malaysia, we’ve managed to bring down the number of new infections and contain the spread of Covid-19 better.

 The empty street of Bukit Bintang, one of the busiest streets in KL during the Movement Control Order (MCO)

Beyond the implementation of the MCO, the Malaysian government has decided to prohibit all gatherings, including during the month of Ramadan (fasting month for Muslims) which began on April 24, 2020. Under normal circumstances, during the month of Ramadan there will be food bazaars (for breaking fast) dotted around major urban and suburban areas selling all sorts of Malaysian delicacies, as well as daily congregational prayers at mosques. This month is one of our biggest (and longest) celebrations nationwide.

Despite being forced to remain in isolation, the pandemic has brought Malaysians closer in the sense that we all take the necessary measures in unison to curb the spread of the virus. From government leaders and front-liners, to activists and members of the public, we all stand together united in the war against Covid-19.”

At the time of writing, Malaysia has confirmed 6,779 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.