Will MCO in Sarawak see another extension after June 28?

File photo depicting closed stores and shops during the MCO.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 25: As Malaysia including Sarawak are only three days away until the Movement Control Order (MCO) is scheduled to be lifted, the question on people’s minds is will it drag beyond June 28?

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg however did not provide any clues on whether the MCO will be lifted or extended when questioned today.

“Wait for SDMC (State Disaster Management Committee) to hold a meeting first and assess the Covid-19 situation,” he told a press conference after visiting Longi Kuching vaccination centre (PPV) at Samajaya Free Industrial Zone here.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who was also present, then joked by saying “we will continue” which drew laughter among media members and other distinguished guests.

Sarawak imposed a two-week lockdown throughout the State on May 29 to curb the spread of Covid-19 during the Gawai holidays, and Malaysia followed from June 1 after the nation’s Covid-19 caseload breached the 8,000 mark on May 28.

The MCO in Sarawak and Malaysia was initially slated to end on June 11 and 14 respectively, but it was extended to June 28 as the number of cases in the country remained above 5,000 despite the lockdown.

Nearly a month into lockdown, Sarawak’s Covid-19 daily caseload continues to hover in the 500-600 range.

In less than a month since the MCO was imposed from May 29 until June 24, Sarawak recorded 16,711 positive cases, 74 clusters and 118 deaths.

In that period, the highest number of new Covid-19 cases recorded reached 744 on June 14 and the lowest was 419 on June 9.

The highest daily death toll was reported on May 31 with 10 fatalities and there were seven deaths recorded on June 18 and 22 respectively.

But for the first time in 27 days since MCO, there were no deaths from Covid-19 reported in SDMC daily updates yesterday (June 24).

As of June 24, the number of active clusters in Sarawak stood at 96 and death toll at 392, while 10,397 active cases are still being hospitalised or under quarantine and observation.

While it remains unclear as to what thresholds will Sarawak need to meet before MCO can be lifted, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had on June 15 outlined a four-phase plan to lift the country out of the health and economic crisis.

The first phase of the exit plan is the current total lockdown or MCO and the government would consider transitioning to the second phase only after considering data from the three factors.

They are based on the average number of daily Covid-19 cases that drops below the 4,000-mark, the state of the public health system that is no longer at a critical level, including the improvement of the usage of ICU beds at health facilities across the country to a moderate level, as well as having 10 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.

If cases drop below 4,000-mark, the national recovery plan can move into Phase 2 in July and August with more economic sectors to be included in the ‘positive’ list while the social sector remains closed.

When cases drop below 2,000-mark, the plan would move into Phase 3 in September and October with economic sectors in the ‘negative’ list given consideration to make the transition to ‘positive’ list, except for those that pose high infection risks or involve huge crowds, while the social sector would open in phases.

With average daily cases dropping below 500-mark, the plan would embark into Phase 4 in November and December where all sectors will be allowed to open including social activities. — DayakDaily