What can you do to occupy your time during this extraordinary “movement control order” from March 18th, 2020 to March 31st, 2020.

As of March 18th, 2020, all of Malaysia is effectively under a “movement control order” or MCO until the end of the month as announced by PM Muhiyiddin Yassin on Monday, March 16th, 2020, in a decision that will hopefully reduce the dramatic increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases throughout the nation.

While this is not strictly speaking considered a lockdown (read more here about the differences), nevertheless citizens are bucking under the suppression of movement. The more you’re told you cannot do something, the more people insist on doing it – and it applies very much to our fellow Malaysians (example 1, example 2).

Despite it all, we have to keep calm and remember that this MCO is for our own good.

  • Reducing the number of infections of Covid-19 will save lives, maybe even yours.
  • Reducing the economical impact of an out-of-control pandemic, may save jobs and provide food on the table, maybe yours too.
  • Allowing our healthcare system to ease their burden with less Covid-19 patients, may give more opportunities to save lives of patients with other diseases, maybe your family is in this category too.

So, pause and think about it before you react. No, the world is not out to make your life inconvenient. This just is the way it is for your own good so we don’t wake up to a dystopian zomebie-land tomorrow – let’s deal with it the best we can because we are decent human beings together in this.

Here are things you should, should not, and can consider doing, in order to thrive in this period of uncertainty.

#1. My Healthy Children Are Driving Me Crazy

To many young parents these days, the thought of being cooped up at home with their own children is enough to drive them up the wall. Many young parents of this generation are both in the workforce and therefore unused to being at home with their own children. The demands of childcare are different from dealing with workplace stress – it takes some adjustment to get used to it. Give all parties some leeway and have patience while you all get used to each other.

When you lose patience, remember these are your own offspring and keeping them healthy is better than facing the nightmare of what you have to face if they fall sick.

Here are some things you can consider doing to keep your family and home in order.

  • Explain to your children what is going on and why life will be different from the next few weeks.
  • Make a timetable. Research shows that children thrive best within a structured environment. Consistent routine helps them feel secure. Plan out their days for them with a weekly timetable. Start from waking up time and end with bedtime. Slot in mealtimes, naptime, and schoolwork time. And then, populate the rest of the day with activities both active and passive, appropriate for their age group. Rope in your children to discuss and decide what they want to include into the timetable.
  • Identify what household chores your kids can help with and get them involved. Washing rice, washing your car, wiping home windows, sorting out the fridge, etc.
  • Know their schoolwork. Take time to sit down with your children and go over their schoolwork with them. Get to know where they are at in their learning and find out their likes/dislikes and why. Most teachers will also have sent your child home with homework so it is good to ensure your child does their homework so they can keep up with syllabus when school re-opens. Take time to talk to them and teach them the value of an education.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends. Set up video-call for them to talk with different family and friends. Teach them how to care about other people’s welfare. Follow-up with questions.
  • The MCO does not completely limit you and your family from going out, but do avoid crowds and do avoid meeting with family/friends to reduce likelihood of infection. Keep face-to-face interaction between household members only. Do stay home unless necessary to go out for essential activities like visiting the doctor.
  • Use the Internet and find ideas for age-appropriate activities for your children to do.
  • Books, books, books. Let your child have time to explore the adventures hidden in story books.

Note:  Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican bin Naina Merican, who is our current Minister of Youth and Sports, says NO to whether we can conduct solitary exercise in public parks and NO to whether we can take our children to neighborhood playground


#2. I’m Going Mad Staying Home All Day & All Night

If the MCO affects your daily routine, you’re bound to feel insecure and trapped. Don’t worry and instead why not try out some of the ideas listed above for children but make them more adult-themed?

  • Make a timetable. Yes, for yourself. A routine will help you stay grounded. Plan out what food to order or cook for the week.
  • If you’re working remotely from home, set up a dedicated area and have everything you need within reach. Remember to take breaks.
  • Do your chores. A clean and tidy home will help you feel mentally refreshed too. Washed your laptop bag lately?
  • Do your grocery shopping online. Check out which stores in your area allow online shopping and delivery to your home.
  • Have a look at your finances. Updated your budget to reflect your lifestyle lately? Monitor your spending trends? How is your investment portfolio?
  • Pick up learning. Learn how to code, dance, change a doorknob, cook a new dish. The Internet is full of useful how-to guides. What do you know abt recycling and zero waste?
  • Teach something. Start a blog, youtube video, Instructables article. Share your knowledge with the world.
  • Have some fun! Blast music and dance. Try on old clothes. Bake a cake you like. Treat yourself.
  • Keep in touch with family or friends without meeting up with them. Order online deliveries for older relatives.
  • Allow yourself some downtime to rest, read news, do a mindless activity.
  • Avoid going out into areas where others are as well unless you absolutely have to. Maintain social distancing (1 meter) from any person, doesn’t even have to be a crowd as you can catch germs from even just 1 person.
    • Choose your timing wisely if you have to go into areas others are. Pick an odd hour when there are less people.
  • Do not travel. This is not the time to bring germs with you to your hometown or to tourist attractions.
  • Protect yourself in this pandemic. Use the Internet to get ideas on maintaining a healthy lifestyle such as what indoor exercise is suitable for you.
  • Keep up to date with official news from govt press releases and from reputable media outlets. Do not spread unverified information on social media.
  • Take time out to spend quality time with your household members in an agreed upon manner. Don’t throw it at them when they least expect it. Plan together. Make peace and have patience with each other.

#3. I Have Older Relatives/Friends Living Alone That I Worry About

It is commendable that you are looking out for our independent elderly. Here are some things we can do to help them out.

  • Run through this list with them.
  • Avoid visiting them in person unless necessary. This is to prevent bringing germs with us. Remember, Covid-19 may have a 14-day incubation period with no symptoms but you would be infectious.
  • Contact them regularly. Check how they are doing. Do they have all the basic necessities? Are they panicking? Do they feel well?
  • Educate them about Covid-19. Explain how it spreads and why isolation is recommended especially for elderly.
    • Older folks generally are more religious. Please explain to them why it is important to stay away from crowds including religious gatherings.
    • Sociable older folks tend to gather at eateries, exercise areas, or religious places to chat. Do explicitly tell them to change their habits. Offer to pay for their phone bills?
  • Order food delivery and/or have groceries delivered to them. Ensure they are eating healthy.
  • Check with them about how they are keeping up with physical activity. It is good for them to stay active even though indoors.
  • Ensure they are up-to-date with paying utility bills.
  • Share official news with them and keep them updated with latest information.
  • Bring up and discuss any news they may have received over social media or from their auntie-uncle-network. Help them filter out fake news.
  • If you have stubborn old folks to look out for, be patient with them. Try to educate rather than scold. Don’t give up, contact them regularly to check.
  • If you have anxious old folks to look out for, be patient with them too. Offer for them to contact you anytime. Frequently contact them too.

#4. I Think I Am Sick

Keep calm, don’t panic. Self-quarantine immediately.

First question that pops into everybody’s minds “Am I dying?”.

We now know that Covid-19 is highly infectious and can bring death, however, here are some statistics about death from Covid-19 taken from here.

  •  Infected people aged between 10 to 39 years have a 0.2% chance of dying from Covid-19.
  • This risk rises to 0.4% for those aged between 40-49 years, 1.3% for those between 50-59 years, 3.6% for those between 60-69 years, 8% for those between 70-79 years and 14.8% for anyone older than 80 years.
  • The good news is anyone nine years old or younger has no additional mortality risk from Covid-19.
  • For infected people with cardiovascular disease, the risk of dying from Covid-19 is 10.5%, with diabetics having an enhanced death risk of 7.3%. People with chronic respiratory diseases have a risk of 6.3%, high-blood pressure sufferers are 6% more likely to succumb, and patients with cancers have a 5.6% death risk from Covid-19.

In the UK right now, their National Healthcare System (NHS) has been strained enough that they are no longer accepting Covid-19 patients, suspected or confirmed. Instead, all are told to stay home for 14-days (self-quarantine) and only to reach out to NHS hotline if they feel worse or symptoms have not changed after 7 days. As such, there are many survivor stories from the UK such as this one detailing their experiences. They didn’t die, but they also practiced a lot of rest and strict self-quarantine.

Second question would likely be “What do I do as a Malaysian that feels sick?”

  • Self-quarantine. Keep yourself alone in your room isolated from other household members, but do keep them informed. Request they stay indoors but apart from you.
  • Consider your symptoms, give your family clinic a call if in doubt.
  • Definitely see a doctor if you are beginning to have difficulty breathing.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice. Get yourself tested if they direct you to do so.
  • Stay isolated until you receive your results. Remember to keep your family informed but keep physical distance between you.
  • Rest more, drink more water, try to keep your immune system strong with healthy food.

Third question. “I don’t feel sick but I have been in close contact with somebody who has been confirmed sick. How now?”.

Self-quarantine. Contact our Ministry of Health (MOH) / Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM) immediately. If you’re unable to get through via your local office, contact a medical clinic and get their assistance.

#5. I Think We Are All Over-Reacting

You are entitled to your own opinion and nobody can change that.

Likewise, we are also entitled to our opinion too.

  • Do not force yourself into other peoples’ personal space (1 meter social distancing).
  • Stay home when you can. No use to purposely go out to proof a point.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Doesn’t hurt to do this whether we are in a pandemic or not.
  • Self-quarantine immediately if you have any symptoms.
  • No need to visit friends or family in their homes. You can call them on the phone.
  • No need to organize events for the fun of it. It’s illegal anyway.

Don’t do things that you may regret. You may choose to risk your own skin, but please do not choose to risk others.


We are living in a time of crisis where we do not need to just rely on the government for instructions. We are each equipped to use common sense. Ask yourself “How can I protect myself (my family) better?”.

There are a variety of ways we Malaysians can react in the face of the MCO. Together we can fight the spread of Covid-19 as long as we heed the instructions in place. Together we can pro-actively care for our own well-being using common sense. Together we can work towards a safer Malaysia for Malaysians.

Malaysia Boleh!


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What other tips to do you for our readers? Share with us in the comments section below.