Despite the number of daily new Covid-19 cases in the country having dipped to the two-digit mark over the past week, the government has reminded the public that the fight against the coronavirus is far from over, and there would be no let-up in the movement control order (MCO) in its third phase. This was reiterated by senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his daily non-health press briefing earlier this evening.

“Yesterday, when it was announced by the health director-general (Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) that only 36 new Covid-19 cases were reported (for April 20), with no deaths, many may have started to feel that there should be an easing of MCO restrictions, like with roadblocks etc,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said this is far from being the case, stating that as long as the MCO is in effect and there are no announcements of standard operating procedures (SOP) being revised, then the existing regulations remain in place. “With that, adherence to the rules continues to be the responsibility of all, and the police will continue to enforce the MCO and detain those who violate the order,” he said.

He said this was to ensure that the measures that have been implemented thus far are not wasted with a recurrence of a new wave of infections. “Please don’t forget that there have been some countries that relaxed the restrictions when cases started to dwindle, but in the end, there has been a resurgence of cases, which has forced them to impose even tighter control measures,” he explained.

As an indicator of things still being very much in the balance, the number of new Covid-19 cases reported today showed a marginal increase from yesterday, to 57, with three new deaths reported. Nonetheless, as Noor Hisham said in his daily health briefing earlier, the dropping rate of new cases is a result of the workings of the MCO. He said that if the momentum continued, with everyone obeying the instructions to remain at home, the country can expect to see better results from now on.

In terms of statistics, Ismail Sabri said that yesterday (April 20), the police carried out 824 roadblocks and inspected a total of 603,314 vehicles at these control points nationwide. The volume of daily traffic is the highest so far since the MCO began on March 18.

A total of 946 individuals were arrested, and of these, 822 were remanded, while 124 were allowed to post bail. He added that cumulative number of arrests for MCO violations now stood at 16,870.

Yesterday, a number of people were charged in court for MCO-related violations. These included eight people in Raub, who were fined RM600 in default 10 days’ jail each for opening stalls selling perishables by the roadside, and 26 people in Kuala Terengganu for an assortment of offences, as Bernama reports. Among the excuses given by some when arrested was they were out attending Quran classes, delivering burgers and throwing rubbish.

The numbers may look good, but the fight continues, and so the advice remains, stay at home unless it’s for food and essentials, and if you do need to head out, stay within a 10 km radius (above that only for those seeking medical treatment or buying medicine) and remember to follow the one-person-per-car rule.