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10 APRIL 2024

Friday, July 30, 2021

Covid-19 restrictions still in force after emergency - Health Ministry


The Health Ministry has clarified that Covid-19 restrictions will remain in place even after the current state of emergency expires.

This comes amid confusion among some members of the public on what the emergency’s expiry after Aug 1 would mean.

In a statement, the ministry said the restrictions in force since March 18 last year were made through orders implemented under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342). The duration of these orders has been extended until the end of this year.

This includes directions by the Health Ministry director-general and standard operating procedures under the National Recovery Plan.

These orders are separate from the proclamation of emergency that is due to expire after Aug 1, as well as emergency ordinances enabled by the state of emergency, the ministry said.

“Any cancellation of the Emergency Ordinances enacted during the emergency would not affect the implementation of Act 342 to prevent and control infectious diseases.

“The order and the proclamation of emergency have already been gazetted and made a public document that can be accessed through the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ website.

“Therefore, all parties are urged not to make their own interpretations that are incorrect regarding this order and avoid confusion and misunderstanding in the community,” it said.

The emergency has been used to implement a range of measures including controversial legislation to combat ‘fake news’ and to tap the National Trust Fund to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.

Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also said the emergency opened more avenues to combat the pandemic, such as by allowing doctors to be moved freely between different healthcare facilities.

Notwithstanding the Health Ministry’s explanation today, however, an emergency ordinance gazetted on Feb 25 was also used to amend Act 342.

The amendments significantly raised penalties for SOP violations and made it an offence to tamper with ‘tracing devices’ worn by Covid-19 patients.

The emergency was promulgated on Jan 11 and is meant to expire after Aug 1.

The emergency is also now at the centre of the dispute between the executive and the palace after the government bypassed royal assent and announced the emergency ordinances are cancelled effective July 21.

The supposed revocation was only announced on July 26. - Mkini

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