The government will convert 13 correctional academies under the Prisons Department to house the increasing number of Movement Control Order (MCO) violators, Putrajaya said today.

According to Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, detainees in the academies will be subjected to the same rules in prisons, and not be accorded to special treatment.

The government initially jailed and fined MCO violators, before the Prisons Department asked the judiciary to stop imposing custodial sentence to prevent overcrowding, which in turn, will spread the COVID-19 further.

Putrajaya then imposed a RM1,000 fine on MCO violators, but this failed to deter offenders, as the number of people who breached the order increased on a steady basis.

Yesterday, Ismail said that starting today, MCO violators will be arrested and brought to face court action, where they could be jailed for not more than 2 years upon conviction.

"Before this, there were complaints that prisons would become too crowded and there would be no social distancing.

"Therefore, a meeting yesterday decided that the Home Ministry will gazette 13 prison academies as prisons or detention centres for MCO offenders," Ismail said in a press conference broadcast live on Facebook today.

A total of 9,702 individuals have been arrested for breaching the MCO since the order was implemented on March 18. 337 people have been charged.

Ismail noted that the MCO compliance rate nationwide stood at 97%.

COVID-19 has thus far affected 4,987 people in Malaysia, and killed 82.

Globally, the disease has infected more than 2 million people, and more than 126,000 people have died from it.

Photo source: Astro Awani