Reopening of borders is of low priority: Noor Hisham

13 May 2020 / 20:58 H.

PUTRAJAYA: Reopening the country’s borders is the last thing Malaysia will do as it gradually eases restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the government would need to strengthen controls to check local transmission and review the global situation on the pandemic before deciding to open up its borders.

“Border control is most important; some Malaysian returnees were found negative of Covid-19 at first swab but it turned positive at second test.

“Because of that, we are very concerned in regard to the reopening of borders. That would be the last option,“ he said in his daily Covid-19 press conference here today.

He said that so far 360 positive cases had been detected among Malaysians returning from overseas.

Meanwhile, based on the Covid-19 modelling and projection done by the Health Ministry’s (MOH) National Institute of Health (NIH), Malaysia could see a sudden spike in infections in mid-June if the people failed to abide by the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

Dr Noor Hisham said the Covid-19 R-nought (R0) value indicating new infections from a single case had been reduced to 0.3 from 3.5 in the early stage of the Movement Control Order (MCO) which was implemented on March 18.

“Although the CMCO gives relaxations for people to go out and work, the action of the community today will determine the graph on the (Covid-19) spread in two weeks’ time.

“If the people are complacent and violate the SOP, the R0 value will rise again and the MCO might be imposed again if it reaches the warning level of 1.6,” he added.

Based on the projection, MOH also expected Malaysia to achieve single digits in new cases in one week’s time if the people continued to adhere to the CMCO SOP.

Asked on the two university students diagnosed with Covid-19 in Sabah, Dr Noor Hisham said they had been quarantined and the source of infection was still being investigated. - Bernama

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