PETALING JAYA,Mar 5: Health minister Dr Adham Baba said the interstate travel ban may be lifted as early as March 18 if the Covid-19 infection numbers are reduced to manageable levels.
He said his ministry would make the recommendation to the government, but it would not be the same blanket reopening that happened last year to prevent another spike in infections.
“We learnt for a year from the movement control order, enforced movement control order, conditional movement control order and recovery movement control order.
“So, we know that the interstate travel restriction is one of the measures needed to reduce case numbers,” he told Malay Mail Online.
Adham said many other countries had also restricted domestic travel to stem the spread of the virus, such as Australia, China, South Korea and even Singapore.
“So, we have decided that there will be no interstate travelling until March 18,” he said, adding that this would be reviewed regularly.
“After March 18, we will see if the data has shown improvement as we have already succeeded in bringing down the curve at the moment.”
Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 case count has come down recently, although yesterday’s 2,063 new cases had breached the 2,000 mark for the first time this month.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah previously said the domestic travel ban might remain until at least 70% of the population had been vaccinated, at which point herd immunity was considered to have been achieved.
He said a lesson could be learnt from the decision to reopen state borders late last year as it led to Covid-19 outbreaks in “green states” such as Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan.
Adham said Noor Hisham had used herd immunity as a “maximum measure” but there was a need to open borders earlier as a way to “balance lives and livelihood”.
He said the government was being cautious at the moment and exploring the possibility of “green bubbles” for safe domestic travel.
“We will take measures to allow interstate travel based on certain matters and this is important. We will try to develop green bubbles,” he said.