Sabah is looking to review the strict lockdown measures that had been in place in some residential areas of the Lahad Datu district since October after hundreds protested outside their homes yesterday.
The state’s Housing Minister Masidi Manjun told reporters today that he would look into reevaluating the Enhanced Movement Control Order restrictions, which are stricter than lockdowns currently in place in other parts of Malaysia as it bans people from leaving their homes to go to work or buy basic necessities.
“I will request that the National Security Council review the situation here while considering recommendations from the health ministry,” Masidi said at a press conference. “I understand the residents’ difficulties as they have been ordered to stay at home for a long time.”
Videos of the protest had been circulating online since yesterday evening of crowds gathering outside the Mutiara Kasih and Khazanah Indah housing flats, chanting: “Open, open, open!”
Protesters yesterday had demanded an end to their lockdown so that they could go back to work and earn their income again.
The two housing areas as well as Sabah Baru Village had been isolated since Oct. 13 and expected to reopen Nov. 23. There were no signs of protests in Sabah Baru yesterday. Both Mutiara Kasih and Khazanah Indah yesterday recorded 70 new COVID-19 infections, on top of the 10 still receiving treatment in hospitals. Sixty people were deemed recovered last week.
Nearly 30,000 people live in Lahad Datu, which is located about 430km away from the Kota Kinabalu capital city of Sabah, where a surge of new COVID-19 infections surfaced after state elections there concluded in September.
Under the Enhanced Movement Control Order, people were not allowed to leave their homes even for work and could only receive aids like food and other basic necessities delivered to them by government agencies and non-governmental organizations such as MyFundAction. Essential workers such as those in healthcare are allowed to go to work.
The rest of Lahad Datu and other parts of Sabah are facing restrictions under the Conditional Movement Control Order, which allows residents to leave home to buy groceries and eat out.
Malaysia has reported a total of 41,181 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began in February, with 972 new infections yesterday. The death toll stands at 294.