PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian authorities are set to implement enhanced measures to better contain the spread of COVID-19, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday (Mar 30).

Speaking at a press conference in Putrajaya, Mr Ismail Sabri, who is also defence minister, explained that these enhanced measures will kick in during phase two of the movement control order (MCO) from Apr 1 until Apr 14.

He said the measures include limiting operating hours for supermarkets, grocery shops, convenience stores and petrol stations between 8am and 8pm. Restaurants, which are only allowed to serve takeaways, will also have to comply with similar operating hours. 

Moreover, he added that the prices of face masks being sold will be reduced from RM2 to RM1.50 to make them affordable for residents. 

Malaysia’s Senior Minister and Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya on Mar 19, 2020. (Photo: Bernama)

Mr Ismail Sabri also encouraged Malaysians to use delivery options to purchase their meals and groceries, but he warned that they should not meet the delivery riders. 

“We suggest that the items to be delivered should be left on the doorstep or outside the fence, and the person who ordered be notified to collect them from there,” said Mr Ismail Sabri. 

“We want to avoid face to face contact as that could lead to the spread of this virus,” he added. 

Malaysia recently extended its movement control order until Apr 14 to try and contain the spread of COVID-19. 

The order involves the closure of all government and private premises except for those providing essential services.

All houses of worship and business premises are also closed except for supermarkets, wet markets, grocery shops and convenience stores selling daily necessities.

The government has also called on the public to stay at home and avoid going out during the order period to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

READ: Malaysia arrests hundreds for flouting curbs on movement as COVID-19 deaths rise

Mr Ismail Sabri also warned that authorities were taking stronger enforcement action against residents who do not adhere to the movement control order. 

He said that police made more than 800 arrests on Sunday, an increase from previous days. 

“Our objective is to reduce the number of arrests, so this means there are still many Malaysians who are not adhering to the restrictions,” added Mr Ismail Sabri.  

On Sunday, Malaysian authorities announced seven more deaths as a result of COVID-19, bringing the national death toll to 34. 

There were also 150 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total to 2,470 – the highest in Southeast Asia. 

ENHANCED MCO FOR AREA IN SELANGOR 

Mr Ismail Sabri added that the Ministry of Health has also imposed an enhanced MCO for an area in Hulu Langat, Selangor. The area, which stretches from Batu 21 until Batu 24 Sungai Lui, has seen 71 out of 274 people from a Tahfiz school test positive for COVID-19. 

The order involved more than 3,900 residents from 700 homes, and will take place from Mar 30 until Apr 13. 

The residents in the area will not be allowed to leave their homes during the duration of the order and no visitors will be allowed to enter the area. 

Moreover, all businesses will cease and food will be provided for all residents by authorities. 

“The purpose of the restricted movement control order is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from the area. This will also enable testing for suspected cases from house to house during the 14-day duration,” said Mr Ismail Sabri. 

This is the second time Malaysia has imposed the enhanced movement control order, after the health ministry announced similar restrictions for two areas in Kluang, Johor last Friday. 

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