Movement Control Order (MCO) Experience in Malaysia

As of today it’s been 6 days since the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been put in place. Wanted to “pen” down the experience so far and what it’s like here in Malaysia.

Very sadly there has been 10 deaths in Malaysia, with the total number of cases currently at 1306. A majority of the cases in Malaysia is due to a huge religious gathering of about 16,000 people (14,500 Malaysians) at a mosque in Sri Petaling from the 27th of Feb 2020 to 1st of March 2020 (4 days) (news article). Authorities are still looking for people who attended the event, some of which we heard are refugees/ illegal immigrants who are afraid of coming forward to be tested (news article).

Moving around

It’s a Movement Control Order (MCO) so at the beginning we were told we can still leave the house to buy food, essential items, or for urgent reasons. Public transport (Grab, Taxi, LRT, MRT, etc) are all still in service. Before the MCO was put in place, many people made a mad rush back to their hometowns as restrictions were also put in place for interstate travel. One passenger on a bus from Johor Bahru to Kuantan ended up testing positive for COVID-19 and the whole bus of people have been put in quarantine. Also it seems authorities are looking for passengers who took another bus from Seremban to Sungai Petani on the 16th of March 2020 (news article). Students were initially chased out of hostels and many ended up having to go back to their home states. A few days later the Ministry of Higher Education said students were to remain in hostels and that the government would bear the cost for their meals.

However, as of today, new guidelines have been set in place because Malaysians were either confused over the MCO guidelines or just stubborn (many still going out in groups/ crowding up grocery shops). Police roadblocks were put in place to stop people from leaving the house in groups or for unnecessary reasons and as of 22nd March 2020, the Armed forces have been called in to assist in carrying out checks/ roadblocks (news article). Only the head of the house or a representative is allowed to go out to buy essential items. Those moving around for work have to carry a letter from their company as proof if stopped at roadblocks and some rumors that to leave the house you must wear a mask.

Parks have been closed with notices from local councils, and now condos/apartments with facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, play areas, surau (prayer rooms) have been instructed to close these facilities.

Restriction of Movement Order
The initial guidelines of the MCO after the announcement by our Prime Minister

Grocery

A lot of panic buying happened the weekend before the MCO was announced especially in the Klang Valley and Penang. Our Prime Minister said there would be a special announcement on Monday (16 March 2020) at 8pm when asked if there would be a lockdown. This drove people to panic buy even more. The announcement of the MCO finally came at 10pm which caused many to rush out to stock up. Unfortunately my parents were not able to stock up in time and only bought a few items here and there.

After 6 days it’s still pretty hard to find certain essentials at the main grocery stores or the smaller mini marts/ convenient stores/ kedai runcit. Fresh veggies are in lower supply, to the extent people cleared out the organic veg section (it’s usually more expensive than normal veg so in general the majority of people won’t usually buy organic). Bread (Gardenia & Massimo loaves) are out of stock by noon. Eggs are also limited we’ve had to buy smaller but more expensive eggs due to lack of stock. Most of the frozen food and meat are out of stock too. Garlic and onions as well. Not sure when the grocery shops will be restocking.

In some places people have been adhering to the social distancing rule. Some marts like Hero limit the number of people going in at one time and do a temperature check. It’s possible to buy groceries online too but due to the surge in orders many either do not have any delivery slots left or have had to suspend services.

Work

I’m thankful my job allows me to work from home (wfh) so at the moment I don’t have to worry about COVID-19 affecting my income, though it’s been very hectic with non-stop video conferencing and a constant barrage of messages from different work groups on Whatsapp. Also it feels like people have forgotten what working hours and lunch hour means with wfh. lol. Everyone seems to expect instant replies and messages come in at all hours of the day, even on weekends. Work has also given us an app to clock in and out from while we wfh. I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have the technology we have today.

My husband on the other hand works in an essential industry that cannot wfh. So he’s been going to work daily as usual though now he has to bring along a letter as proof that he is only out because he is required to go in to work.

3ply Masks/ N95 Masks & Hand Sanitizers

Checking around my area, none of the pharmacies have it in stock. Will have to wait for more stock to arrive, but not sure when that will happen. Hand sanitizers went out of stock really quickly initially, but I’ve seen some pharmacies that have lesser known brands in stock (Antabax & Dettol are completely out of stock). Most public places now have giant bottles of hand sanitizers, even my condo management installed an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser in all our lifts. I also now know the 7 steps of hand washing and to do it for at least 20 seconds (while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).

Others

A lot of news lately has been regarding cases where patients lied or did not reveal their travelling history or close contact with COVID-19 positive patients. It’s really sad as the doctors, nurses and hospital staff are exposed and then have to be quarantined for 14 days at a time when they are needed the most. Rumors and fake news have been rampant as well. MCMC has “Sebenarnya.my” set up to help counter it and you can send them reports to help fact check any info you see shared by others. I currently follow Sebenarnya, Crisis Preparedness and Response Center Ministry of Health Malaysia, and Majlis Keselamatan Negara on telegram to get all my official news.

Sebenarnya.my: https://t.me/sebenarnyamy
Crisis Preparedness and Response Center Ministry of Health Malaysia: https://t.me/cprckkm
Majlis Keselamatan Negara: https://t.me/MKNRasmi

Memes & media related to the COVID-19 MCO

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