Memos from Asia

How Malaysia Is Responding to COVID-19: Hospitals, Businesses, and Schools

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On January 25, 2020, Malaysia detected its first coronavirus case, a person who had close contact with an infected person from Singapore.

Not long after, cases started rising. However, the Ministry of Health (MoH) was quick to act and immediately set up guidelines to tackle the virus, specific hospitals to treat infected patients in each state, and many screening centers.

Despite the preemptive measures, in March 2020, Malaysia recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in all of Southeast Asia due to a new cluster caused by a religious gathering of roughly 16,000 people involved.

As a result, the Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 16. Restrictions to enter and leave the country were in place, and everyone was affected.

Healthcare

Under the direction of Director-General of the MoH, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham, Malaysian healthcare has been proactive in battling the virus. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being used strictly in areas of the hospital dealing with the virus, while the frontliners’ movements are being heavily traced to minimize virus spread. The doctors and nurses wear layers of protection with working spaces that are regularly sanitized.

In addition to that, patients are treated with strict treatment plans to avoid any undesired casualties. Because of this, Malaysia now has a 96.7% recovery rate as of August 9, 2020. The MoH has also increased the number of hospitals and screening centers to help detect and treat the cases as thoroughly as possible.

As a way of keeping the citizens informed and aware, the MoH is actively updating daily on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and on the local news.

Businesses

Since the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO), all non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. Due to this, a lot of people who rely on income from businesses have been put into a tight spot during the pandemic.

On March 27, 2020, Malaysian Prime Minister announced PRIHATIN, an economic stimulus package to help bolster those adversely affected by the economy during the pandemic, with RM10billion (about 2.39billion USD) allocated for the purpose. On April 6, 2020, another economic stimulus package worth RM10billion to aid Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Now that Malaysia has recovered significantly from the spike in cases, the government has implemented a Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) on June 7, with all businesses now allowed to open. However, a lot of safeguards are being added to minimize the virus spread. For instance, all business premises must ensure patrons have their temperature read before entering. If a person has a temperature of over 37.5, they are not allowed to enter the premises.

The Malaysian government has also implemented a system in which all businesses must record details of all patrons who enter their store using an application called ‘MySejahtera.’ This is to ensure that in the event of someone diagnosed with the coronavirus, close contacts may easily be traced.

Education

Kindergartens, schools, and universities were immediately closed as soon as the MCO was announced. Students were forced to stay home and move into online classes. Those staying in dorms under public universities were allowed to return home in stages.

Teachers and lecturers in Malaysia commonly used Google Classroom, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, and other online tools to teach students.

Due to the pandemic, all national exams have been canceled, and some postponed. The education minister of Malaysia has decided that those canceled will be replaced with online assessments instead.

Not long after the RMCO was announced, Malaysia’s education minister announced that schools would reopen in stages beginning from June 24. In addition to that, strict procedures have been set in place, such as social distancing in classes, compulsory temperature checks before entering the compound, wearing face masks, distanced seats, minimizing group work, and regular hand sanitizing.

A lot has changed since the pandemic first arrived, but Malaysians are adapting well to these changes and incorporating it into their daily routines. With Malaysia’s response, Malaysia is successfully curbing the disease, remaining cautious, and working together as a country to break the virus chain.

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