The National Security Council will meet before the movement control order (MCO) ends to decide if the two weeks enforcement period is sufficient, or need to be extended. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, “If there are improvements as a result of the action undertaken by the Health Ministry, as well as cooperation from all, including participants of the tabligh gathering who have yet to be tested, then this show that the MCO is working. “We will have to monitor the development first before deciding,” he said after chairing the Economic Action Council meeting on Monday (March 23). 212 new cases were reported today – the highest number of new cases recorded in a day. The death toll is now 14.

The government has announced the implementation of the MCO from March 18 to March 31. Tan Sri Muhyiddin said reports from the police and armed forces on the ground showed improvements in the compliance of the MCO, with close to 90% of the people complying. “We are hoping for 100% compliance, but if there are lesser movement where people only leave their homes to buy essential items, the better,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said the government will channel RM500mil to the Health Ministry to support its efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. He said on top of this, another RM100mil would be allocated to enable the ministry to employ 2,000 contract staff, especially nurses.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin also announced other initiatives such as allowing withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund for contributors, aged 55 and below, for a sum of RM500 a month for a maximum of 12 months from Account 2. Applications can be made from April 1 and is expected to benefit 12 million contributors.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz said Government-linked companies (GLCs) have to-date donated about RM60 million in the form of medicine, medical equipment and personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Health. He urged the corporate sector to assist national efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. In this regard, the Finance Ministry has approved a tax deduction for contributions and donations in cash and in kind by individuals and corporates to the COVID-19 Fund and the Health Ministry.

Tengku Zafrul added that preparations for the Second Economic Stimulus Package are underway and will take into account various stakeholders’ feedback, sustainability of private sector companies and the nation’s economic resilience in facing the challenges of COVID-19 and global uncertainties. This would be in addition to the RM20 billion stimulus package announced in February.

In a related development, the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) has pledged to donate 19 million medical gloves to the Malaysian government in the race against the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement today, its president Denis Low said these include the many batches of gloves contributed by association members to hospitals, police stations and local authorities within their respective vicinities in the last few days. “Our members were given approval to operate as essential services sector at 50 per cent production capacity and this had led to a shortfall of gloves around the world. The donors include Smart Glove Corporation Sdn Bhd, Top Glove Corporation Bhd, YTY Group, Kossan Latex Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and 14 other manufacturers.

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