The Movement Control Order (MCO), enforced to contain the spread of COVID-19, has been extended until April 28.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin made this announcement in a televised message this evening.

According to him, the decision was taken to step up the current efforts to contain the disease, and completely break the infection chain.

The premier started off his speech by thanking the sacrifices and contributions from the frontliners, including doctors, nurses, policemen, soldiers, as well as food delivery riders.

He also thanked Malaysians who had adhered to the MCO and practised social distancing thus far.

"Based on the current situation, the MCO has helped our health workers contain the spread of COVID-19 to a manageable level.

"Positive COVID-19 cases are currently at 7%, below the 10% benchmark set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The mortality rate is also at 1.6%, below the 5.8% global mortality rate," he said.

"So far, 1,830 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals. This means 43% of COVID-19 patients have recovered," added Muhyiddin.

According to him further, today's number stands at 220 discharges, compared to 118 positive cases.

"The number of positive cases have also gone down in the last few days. If this downward trend continues in the next two weeks, God willing, we can contain the COVID-19 from spreading further.

'Get used to the new normal'

Muhyiddin, however, urged Malaysians to prepare themselves to adapt to the "new normal".

"We cannot return to being how we were before. For example, get used to not shaking hands, wash your hands more frequently, and using face masks and hand sanitizers.

"Continue to practise social distancing, don't loiter at shopping malls, don't gather in large groups, and don't even 'balik kampung.

"It is difficult, but necessary," said the premier.

The reopening of the schooling session will also have to be postponed to a later date, until the government is sure that the situation is under control.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry will be asked to come up with home-based learning modules, Muhyiddin said.

As for steps to stem further spread of the disease, Muhyiddin said he has instructed the chiefs of the enforcement bodies in the country to tighten security at border crossings, including the "back lanes" (jalan tikus) near the borders.

Acknowledging the difficulties faced by businesses during the MCO, and the impact it has on the country's economy, Muhyiddin said a special cabinet committee has been established to look into several chosen sectors that will be allowed to open, in stages.

"These sectors will be allowed to reopen, albeit under strict monitoring and regulations by government.

"The list of the sectors will be announced soon," he said.