KUALA LUMPUR, 14 June 2021: Malaysia announced Friday it was extending the national lockdown for another two weeks until 28 June.
Senior Minister for Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the decision to extend the Movement Control Order followed a spike in daily case exceeding 5,000.
However, travel trade sources in Kuala Lumpur said the decision to extend was not a surprise, claiming the two-week lockdown that ended 14 June was not enough to deal with the more contagious variant that has since emerged and the detection of so-called festival clusters.
The Health Ministry was quoted by the Star Online saying 60 festival clusters have been recorded in the past three weeks, stemming from Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Gawai celebrations.
Meanwhile, officials in Sabah last week reported a new Covid-19 cluster in Kampung Lobou that was triggered by a religious festival at a church in Kampung Lobou, Menggatal, the Malay Mai reported.
Under the MCO allows economic activities, but it prohibits cross-district and interstate travel as well as social, sports and education.
The Prime Minister’s Office said the emergence of new variants delayed efforts to flatten the infection curve within 14 days.
On Friday, the country reported 6,846 new cases were reported slightly lower than 9,000 cases on 29 May. Malaysia’s national Covid-19 tally stood at 646,411 cases and 3,738 deaths.
In the week leading up to the latest MCO extension MATTA President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang emphasised the importance of speeding up the vaccination programme and targeting tourism industry staff.
“We have written to the Minister coordinating the vaccination programme to fast track the vaccination rollout for workers in the tourism industry. This move is critical if we are to reinforce the nation’s reputation as one of the foremost tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. As can be seen, by several other countries, successful vaccination programmes result in countries being able to open their borders to international travel”.