The authorities are reportedly considering imposing another round of lockdown similar to the initial Movement Control Order (MCO) to stem the tide of ever-rising COVID-19 cases.

According to a report in the Malaysia Now portal, top government officials have been briefed on the plan to impose targeted measures on states badly affected by the outbreak, including Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Johor, and Sabah.

A source told the portal that "several legal issues are still outstanding" before the lockdown is imposed, which could see yet another ban on interstate travel, and restrictions on non-essential trips other than to get daily essentials.

"Reinstating the MCO could also mean a complete ban on all religious and social gatherings including prayer congregations, kenduris, sports events and annual festivals," the source said, adding that health experts believe that such move could slash the current daily rate of infections, which surpass 2,000, by 80%.

It is not known how long the new proposed lockdown would last, and how it could affect economic activities.

However, the source suggested that extra leniency could be accorded to the economic sector as the government would not want to see another collapse of businesses, as they did during the first round of MCO, which began on March 18 last year.

Malaysia is currently undergoing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, brought about by the Sabah state election last September.

Yesterday, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told a press conference that the country's health system is at a "breaking point", as the number of active COVID-19 cases filled hospital beds to near full capacity.

The loosening of restrictions, including the lifting of the ban on interstate travel on Dec 7 had also contributed to the rise in the number of cases, he pointed out.

Noor Hisham further warned that cases could spike further in the coming weeks, and called for targeted lockdown at places worst hit by the outbreak.

Yesterday, the country witnessed a record high of 2,595 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 125,438. A total of 513 people have died from the disease thus far.

The global infection and death tally from the coronavirus stands at over 87.6 million, and 1.88 million, respectively.

Source: Malaysia Now
Photo source: Astro Awani