Kuala Lumpur — Malaysia has “succeeded in flattening the curve and our country is entering the recovery phase” with the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented from March 18 to curb the rate of Covid-19 infections, according to Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah on Wednesday (April 29).
However, as successful as Malaysia has been in getting Covid-19 infections under control, it has come at great expense to its economy, as well as the mentail health of its citizens, according to a report on scmp.com on Thursday (April 30).
The report cited a survey by the Malaysian think tank, The Centre, entitled “MCO And Mental Well-Being: Home Sweet Home?”
The survey said that nearly 50 per cent of its respondents said they had suffered from negative mental well-being during the MCO, although with varying levels of severity.
Almost one quarter of the respondents (22 per cent) said they had experienced severe or extremely severe anxiety.
Women and people under the age of 35 seemed to be particularly hard-hit, with more than one quarter saying they felt severe and extremely severe depression, anxiety, and stress. Individuals living in low-cost housing also said they experienced these conditions.
In a statement, The Centre said: “This highlights a need to review how low-cost housing is designed and built, to take into consideration mental health implications.”
Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the MCO had allowed the authorities to concentrate their efforts on curbing the spread of Covid-19, as well as focus on high-risk groups.
However, he warned that Malaysia’s fight against Covid-19 will not be over until a vaccine is available, and emphasised that Malaysians will in the meantime need to continue with different measures including social distancing and improved personal hygiene.
“The MCO cannot eliminate the Covid-19 disease completely. In fact, people need to be prepared for this for longer.” He added that the Health Ministry would continue with its containment and control activities, but people’s active participation is vital.
As for the economy, the Government announced daily losses of 2.4 billion ringgit (S$778 million) because businesses have had to close.
And should the lockdown be extended two weeks further than the scheduled date of its lifting on May 12, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research said 2.4 million Malaysians may find themselves unemployed.
Amid economic hardships, the country’s foreign workers and refugees have found themselves in an especially vulnerable position, with citizens saying only Malaysians should be receiving aid from the government. /TISG