MCO: To lift or not to lift … six criteria you need to meet

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has outlined six criteria that must be met before the government can decide to lift the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said, the criteria given by the World Health Organisation (WHO), however, need to be customised before looking at how best the government can fit them.

Followings are the criteria, strategies or frameworks which need to be adopted by all the ministries and departments as mentioned by Dr Noor Hisham during his daily press conference on COVID-19:

1. Border control

Dr Noor Hisham said strengthening the country’s border is very important as it could potentially reduce the number of ‘imported cases’.

“That is something that we learn from many countries that have done it. So, we need to look into the issues of border control. In fact we need to tighten the border rather than to ease the border,” he said.

2. Movement control

Movement control connotes whether or not the local transmission from one person to another has been decreased.

Dr Noor Hisham said the percentage of local transmission cases should drop to single-digit before the MCO can be lifted.

“Now, it is two-digit. Probably, in the next one or two weeks, if we continue to enhance our MCO, we can bring down the cases maybe into a single-digit, as we have seen in other countries as well,” said Dr Noor Hisham during a press conference on Wednesday.

However, he said, the decision to lift the MCO, to be made by the Prime Minister, would be in terms of MOH advisory after getting the data.

3. Healthcare facilities enhancement

Capability of hospitals, including the number of labs for tests, the strength of ventilators and sufficient wards, as well as the staff, need to be improved.

“We try our best to raise the detection standards from 48 hours to 24 hours, or less, which complies with the acceptable guidelines given by WHO,” he added.

4. Protection of high-risk groups

Vulnerable groups must be protected and the country has to ensure mechanisms to protect those elderly, the disabled, those undergoing chemotherapy as well as those with comorbidities.

5. The new norms

Social distancing, keeping good hygiene and avoiding public gathering must be put in place, in adapting the new normal by the public, even if the MCO is lifted.

6. Community empowerment

Dr Noor Hisham said the community should be empowered, especially those in the infected areas, by using the workforce to implement preventive measures, including protecting the green zone.

He also added that MOH would advise Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin based on facts and figures to be customised from World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines before April 28.


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