KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin unveiled a COVID-19 exit plan on Tuesday, outlining how the country would navigate its way out of the pandemic as it has been in lockdown since June.
In a televised speech, Muhyiddin said the plan would be gradually rolled out in four phases, with the transition to each phase when meeting certain indicators and criteria like daily new cases and vaccination rate, and all sectors of the economy are expected to be open by the end of the year.Muhyiddin said the government's immediate priorities are to ramp up the national immunization plan, stabilize the healthcare system which is under heavy strain, and roll out economic stimulus packages.Malaysia's vaccination program kicked off in February. Some 4.6 million doses have been administered with 1.4 million having received two doses as of Tuesday.He added that while the various anti-COVID-19 restrictions were negatively impacting the economy, it was necessary to impose them to slow the spread of the virus."It was a very painful situation because the continuous lockdowns badly affected our livelihoods and yet we did not know exactly when and how we are able to get out of the woods."This plan is a carefully crafted guide based on data and science to enable us all to return to normal daily life or back to normalcy," he said.A nationwide lockdown is effective in Malaysia, which bans all economic and social activities except essential services. Muhyiddin said the current lockdown is Phase 1 on the government plan, with high single-day new cases, the health system being in a critical situation and a low vaccination rate.The country will move into Phase 2 if fresh daily infections dropped below 4,000 and at least 10 percent of the population fully vaccinated. Phase 2 will see workplaces have up to 80 percent of staff return to work with some additional non-essential sectors being allowed to operate.Transitioning to Phase 3 will require less than 2,000 daily infections and 40 percent of the population fully vaccinated with the healthcare situation, especially use of intensive care beds being stabilized and schools and sports activities being allowed gradually.Phase 4 will be rolled out when fresh infections stay below 500 per day, 60 percent of the population fully vaccinated, and represents the final phase with all social activities, economic activities and even tourism being allowed.Malaysia reported another 5,419 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the national total to 667,876. Another 101 more deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 4,069.