Friday, October 23, 2020

PM seeks to calm anxious public as Covid-19 spike revives talk of lockdown

The government is seeking specific details from health authorities on the nature of the recent spikes.

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Faced with growing anxiety over the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, the government is seeking to calm the public, especially amid strong speculation of a reinstated lockdown.

This comes as the Klang Valley is abuzz with rumours that the movement control order (MCO), which shut down daily life for almost three months, could be declared again.

MalaysiaNow has learnt from sources close to discussions among top health officials and government leaders that authorities will announce several measures to arrest the huge spike in new cases in recent days.

The measures include the closure of schools in areas identified as red zones, as well as a suspension of classes at public universities.

“But the government will stop short of declaring an MCO-style lockdown,” the source said.

“They felt that not only would it be disastrous for the authorities to lock down businesses and close schools again, it is also not necessary from a public health point of view,” it added.

Muhyiddin out to calm public

Despite repeated denials from government leaders, rumours have been swirling of an imminent lockdown, including a ban on interstate travel.

These come as daily new Covid-19 cases breach even the highest number at the peak of the MCO period.

Today’s Covid-19 numbers were the highest since the pandemic was detected in Malaysia, with 691 new patients identified.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to address the nation again this evening.

“But this time, we feel he will be facing the public not to announce bad news, but to calm their fears,” the same source told MalaysiaNow.

At the heart of the issue is confusion on the nature of the spike and new clusters.

It is learnt that Putrajaya has thrown questions at the health ministry, with “frustrated queries” being sent over the “lack of specific details surrounding the spike”, according to one official.

“The fact that these spikes were originating from detention centres and prisons is worrying, but it does not amount to an uncontrolled spread among the public,” it added.

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