What Malaysia's Pandemic Recovery Plan Looks Like

What - and how - Malaysia is doing in the wake of COVID-19.
Monday 29 June 2020
Schools have started reopening in phases, focusing on students sitting for major examinations this year. Photo: AFP

Malaysia’s Conditional Movement Control Order recently ended on 9 June, followed up immediately by the Recovery Movement Control Order – a recovery phase announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that will last until 31 August. 

The second-phase CMCO was in itself a relaxation of the previously hugely restrictive first phase, seeing the reopening of economic sectors under tight social distancing regulations. Sports and social/community events, as well as religious gatherings, were banned and remain so, well, at least until 1 July. Thanks to the government’s quickly implemented controls and countermeasures, which echoed many other Asian countries, the country is recovering quickly. 

Recoveries today continue to outpace new cases. The Health Ministry reported on Wednesday that 45 patients had been discharged, compared with six new recorded cases. According to Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, four of the six new cases were local transmissions involving Malaysians, namely three in Selangor and one in Sarawak.

To date, a total of 8,231 patients have recovered. There are currently 244 active cases. No new virus-related deaths have been reported, and the death toll remains at 121. 

Noor Hisham said that Malaysia is aiming for zero new positive cases by mid-July. Provided, of course, that the people fully comply with the RMCO’s standard operating procedures, which includes regular temperature checks and contact tracing at all venues. The possibility of a second wave remains, should attitudes relax overmuch.


Current measures

Despite Malaysia’s apparently quick recovery, it is not out of the woods yet.

“This is no time to be complacent. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the Health Ministry’s guidelines and prevent a second wave, as has occurred in some other countries,” said social activist and former politician Tan Sri Datuk Seri Lee Lam Thye. “Although new infections have decreased, the reduction only applies to clusters that have been tested. It is not possible to test every individual, and some individuals are asymptomatic. That means there still could be carriers among us who have not been isolated,” said Lee in a recent statement. 

That said, the RMCO has nonetheless enabled the reopening of almost all economic sectors in the country in stages. All markets, including morning and night markets, are back in business, and businesses can now operate at their previous regular hours. Sales and promotional activities outside business premises are allowed; meetings and workshops can also be done so long as they follow health and safety protocols and optimise space.

The entertainment industry remains shut. Pubs, nightclubs, karaoke outlets, theme parks, and reflexology centres remain closed until further notice. Sports competitions or games that require mass gatherings in stadiums, swimming pools and public swimming pools are still not allowed, and contact sports such as rugby, wrestling, boxing, football, basketball and hockey remain banned.

That’s not to say that entertainment’s out of the question, though. Parents can now take their small children to public places, including shopping centres and restaurants with strict precautions to protect them from the Covid-19 infections. Museum visits, indoor busking and film shoots have also been given the green light.

International travel is still banned. However, interstate travel restrictions have been relaxed, with the exception of travel to areas remaining under the Enhanced Movement Control Order.