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Malaysia cannot remain closed for too long, says Ismail Sabri

ARAU, Dec 12 —The government cannot be closing the country indefinitely and not allowing the people to move freely, said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.

“In the end, we need to allow them to be free as Covid-19 will always be around us like dengue and so on,” he told reporters after an audience with the Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail at Istana Arau here today.

Present at the audience was the Raja Muda of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail.

Also present in the audience were Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man, Army Chief Gen Datuk Zamrose Mohd Zain and Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Muez Abd Aziz.

Ismail said when the government allowed the people the freedom of movement, every individual should take preventive measures to avoid getting infected.

“As such the people have to comply with all the standard operating procedures (SOP) as well as all the instructions announced by the government from time to time. I believe if everybody cooperates, the Covid-19 graph could be flattened,” he said.

He said many countries have no movement control such as Taiwan where the people are disciplined and practise self-control so much so Covid-19 did not spread in the country.

Commenting on the rise of Covid-19 cases in the past few days, Ismail said the total cases detected rose after government enforced mandatory screening of all foreign workers in the country.

Yesterday, there were 1,810 new cases reported and the day before there were 2,234 cases.

“There are 888,000 workers (foreign workers) in the country…’just imagine’ if five per cent were positive, the figure would increase drastically and we have to be prepared with sufficient number of beds if there are Covid-19 cases among them.

“What I want to stress here is that ‘as long as’ it does not spread in the community, we would be able to control it as the number involved only foreign workers,” he said.           He said at the same time, the Human Resource Ministry is intensifying inspection of  worker accommodation as many factories did not adhere to Act 446 (Workers Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act 1990) where employers are required to provide conducive living quarters for their workers.

“Two actions have to be taken, namely swab test for Covid-19 on foreign workers and we need to ensure their living condition is more conducive as living in cramped conditions with 20-30 people in an apartment can cause the disease to spread quickly,” he said.

Earlier the government made it compulsory for factory foreign workers to undergo Covid-19 screenings from Dec 1.

In another development, Ismail said the government has added two more new posts in the northern region of the country apart from increasing the purchase of new equipment such as drones to step up surveillance at the Malaysian-Thai border.

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