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Curbs may be eased if virus cases dip below 4,000: Malaysian Minister

Government will work on National Recovery Plan, which will outline its strategy and phased easing of restrictions

JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian government is studying the possibility of relaxing curbs under the current lockdown if daily Covid-19 cases drop to 4,000 cases or fewer.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the matter was, however, subject to Health Ministry advice.

Malaysia on Friday extended a national lockdown imposed to curb a surge in coronavirus infections for two more weeks, with the latest restrictions to end on June 28. The lockdown was originally set to end today.

Mr Ismail Sabri said the government would be holding a special meeting to discuss the exit plan from the lockdown.

"This does not mean the end of restrictions but perhaps reviewing the rules that can be relaxed a bit and so on. This is because the impact will be visible only after 14 days - because that is the incubation period of the virus."

"We pray after 14 days that the cases go down; we can review the SOP (curbs) which we think may be a little strict, but I cannot promise because it depends on the advice from the Health Ministry," he said, after visiting the army field hospital at Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru yesterday.

"The exit plan to come out from the lockdown as a whole does exist, but what is clear is that vaccination needs to be done to achieve herd immunity as targeted by the government.

"If we can achieve the target, I believe we can slowly ease restrictions," he said.

Malaysia reported 5,304 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 657,508.

There were 64 deaths, taking the toll to 3,908.

RECOVERY PLAN

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted by Bernama news agency as saying yesterday that as the country gradually emerges from the pandemic, the government will work on a National Recovery Plan, which will outline its strategy and the phased easing of restrictions,

The plan, he said, will take into account current statistics and existing policies on containment measures, the economy and vaccination progress, and it will be presented to the National Security Council within next week.

"Some of the key ministers involved have already sat down with me to present the draft.

"Basically good, but not yet refined.

"It is time to set an exit strategy or National Recovery Plan for us to get out of this problem, but this is a big challenge and depends on the cooperation and support of all parties," he said, as quoted by Bernama.

Mr Muhyiddin said the plan could help hospitals manage their capacity.

"We have to help the Ministry of Health manage (its) healthcare (capacity) to ensure our healthcare system does not collapse... there must be enough hospitals, bed facilities, ventilators and hospital staff," he said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adham Baba said Malaysia is developing two types of Covid vaccines.

The two vaccines, being developed by a group of researchers at the Institute for Medical Research, are the ribonucleic acid vaccine, or messenger RNA vaccine, and inactivated vaccine types.

"It is part of our efforts to increase our capacity for vaccine development, as well as in preparing for future pandemics," said Dr Adham yesterday.

The ongoing National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme offers three vaccines - the Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca, all of which are imported. - THE STAR

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