Friday, March 27, 2020

Locked Down in Malaysia

Malaysia’s neighbor, Singapore, had an early start to the COVID-19 coronavirus from travelers during Chinese New Year.  However, Singapore had learned many lessons from the 2003 SARS epidemic and was ready for the challenge. 

Shopping the day before MKO

About 3 weeks ago, Singapore closed their borders to all non-nationals, started aggressive testing, tracking, and quarantine.

As oblivious cruisers, our big concern was where to go for visa renewals if not Singapore.  In reality, the COVID growth in Malaysia was accelerating. 

Take-away Naan Bread from the tandoori
Malaysia had a big spike in cases from a religious pilgrimage at the end of February in Sri Petaling, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur.  16,000 people were in close contact and exposed to the virus.

Malaysia accepted WHO assistance to track and test the attendees to avoid further exposure to the general population.  These exposures made Malaysia the country with the highest number of cases in SE Asia.

Marina Island Checkpoint
The government of Mayalsia has a good working relationship with South Korea, Hong Kong, and China.  

They didn’t go into denial but instead listened to the lessons learned from SARS and N1H1.

On March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, Malaysia ordered a 2 week Movement Control Order (MKO)

Empty Checkout lines during the MKO
The MKO is basically a nationwide shutdown.  The borders are closed.  All businesses except markets and convenience stores, gas stations, power plants, the post, and the military are closed.  

No hardware stores, retail, nor are services open.  

Foreigners are not permitted to enter the country and no Malaysian may leave.  Inter-city checkpoints block all traffic except essential commerce.

Restaurants can be open for take away only but since business is so slow, it doesn’t make sense economically to stay open.  The economy of the country is essentially shut down.

We went food shopping before the MKO and the stores were busy but still stocked.

Now, during the MKO, only the head of the household can enter, must wear a face mask, while the security guard gives you hand sanitizer.  The checkout people have been wearing masks and gloves long before the MKO.
They are very serious here

We are doing fine and are glad that we are in a country that cares enough about its people to go through these extreme measures.  The isolation is weird but nowhere near as bad as our month long passage from Mexico to French Polynesia.

The 14 day MKO has now been extended for another 2 weeks.  We feel very safe here and do not mind these restrictions.  Malaysia is very serious about the spread of this disease.  It would be nice if the United States was also.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to hear all good with you both. Safer in Pangkor than USA. Trust you are not working too hard.