Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has urged all Malaysians to play their role in stopping the spread of Covid-19, warning that the government will be forced to reintroduce the movement control order if necessary.

“I wish to remind all of us of the impact if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases and the movement control order would have to be introduced.

“It will surely be awfully bad for our livelihood and the nation’s economy. We cannot go anywhere and have to remain at home, just like what is being enforced in Kota Setar, Kedah, at this moment,” he said in a televised address today.

Muhyiddin said that while Malaysia has done well in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic so far, the recent spike in Covid-19 cases is worrying with 615 new cases reported in the past 14 days.

This includes the districts of Kota Setar, Tawau, and Lahad Datu that have been classified as red zones after recording more than 40 cases each over a 14-day period.

He noted that the daily number of cases have reached up to triple digits in recent days, and there hasn’t been a recent day where no new cases were reported.

“This shows that the chain of Covid-19 infection has yet to be fully broken.

“Hence, I wish to remind ladies and gentlemen to continue to be vigilant. Don’t let down your guard.

“The rules relating to quarantine, the wearing of nose and mouth coverings, and compliance with standard operating procedures are still in effect.

“You must continue to be disciplined and obey the rules. This is important so we can contain the spread of Covid-19,” Muhyiddin said.

Mass testing soon in Lahad Datu, Tawau and Kunak after clusters detected

The Health Ministry will be mass testing selected residents in Lahad Datu, Tawau and Kunak after Covid-19 cases were detected there.

As the virus looms over Sabah, director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has again urged all to comply with standard operating procedures (SOP) when campaigning for the election.

Speaking during a press conference in Putrajaya, he said the government was working hard to prevent undocumented migrants from making it through the country’s borders.

“Once we can tighten the border, we are also doing screening in the community now.

“So we are targeting the screening (and) we anticipate that in the next couple of days and weeks, we will screen the communities in Tawau, Lahad Datu and Kunak.

“Perhaps about 15,000 to 20,000 (people). We are ready to do the mass screening of the respective areas,” he said.

Noor Hisham added that selected villages will be identified for the mass testing measures.

“Screening will be based on locality, if the locality is high in terms of positive cases, then probably we will consider taking action in terms of an enhanced movement control order, for example,” he said.

Factors behind Benteng cluster

As of 12noon today, the Benteng LD cluster has swelled to 424 cases in two localities – the Lahad Datu police lockup and Tawau prison.

Detainees make up 395 cases, lockup and prison staff make up 10 while 19 are close or social contacts.

Noor Hisham explained today that the virus outbreaks happened because detainees were not properly tested and isolated.

“When we detained the undocumented migrants, there was a mixture with the detainees (already) in the lockup and prison. Because of the mixing, limited spaces and also (a) delay in terms of doing the (Covid-19) test.

“So, the mixing has actually caused the infection to be in the lockup and prison. I think the lesson learned is that they (the authorities) have to comply with the SOP, not to mix new detainees and the old detainees,” he said when asked.

“After they have done the test, they (the detainees) have to be isolated for 14 days before they mix (with others). I think we have to emphasise this,” he added.

SOPs help break infection

As cases and infectivity rates rise in Sabah, the top official stressed that SOP compliance was paramount.

This was especially as the state election was ongoing.

“As far as elections are concerned, we do have an SOP for the election but again we encourage the public to make sure they comply with the SOP,” he said.

The SOPs include avoiding confined spaces, crowded places and close conversations.

Members of the public are encouraged to wear a face mask, practice physical distancing and frequently wash their hands.

The state-wide election campaign period runs from Sept 12 to midnight on Sept 25.

Polling day is on Sept 26.