KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) – With new coronavirus cases in Malaysia generally getting fewer after three months, the country has decided to drop the closely followed daily Covid-19 security and health briefings that were aired live on social media platforms.
The daily briefings over security issues linked to the pandemic were conducted by Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob, while the separate health briefing was headed by the health ministry’s director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Datuk Seri Ismail said from Monday (June 15), there will only be three such briefings a week, on week-days.
“I would like to inform that today (Sunday) will be the last day I appear live every day. And today is also the last day I will go live on a weekend,” he told the briefing.
He quipped: “Maybe after this, there will be no more colourful batik shirts that have been an inspiration for your desserts and drinks.”
Mr Ismail, who is also Defence Minister, was referring to the wide array of colourful batik shirts he wore at his briefings.
Meanwhile, the health ministry indicated on Saturday that it will be issuing daily statements on the matter instead.
Malaysia on Sunday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 8,453 infections. The health ministry also reported one more death, raising the total number of fatalities from the outbreak to 121.
On Saturday, it had announced 43 new cases and one death.
On Wednesday (June 10), it recorded just two new cases, after also reporting single-digit numbers the previous two days. There were seven new coronavirus cases on both Monday and Tuesday.
These figures were the lowest daily infections since the government imposed movement controls three months ago on March 18.
The movement control order has been further relaxed from Wednesday (June 10), with most sectors of the economy re-opened except for large gatherings such as in cinemas and concerts.
Mosques, churches and temples were generally allowed to reopen from Wednesday in so-called green zones – districts with no Covid-19 infections.
The country’s borders, however, have remained shut to tourists.
Mr Ismail said the borders will remain closed to anyone unless travellers have pressing matters to address.
“There is an exception made for foreign diplomats and those under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
“Malaysians will need a good reason to travel out of the country and apply to the Immigration Department for permission. For example, if a student needs to return to their university overseas to sit for an exam, that is allowed,” the Senior Minister said.
He said the no-travel policy also applies to athletes who need to travel abroad for championships or competitions to qualify for the Olympics.