BFF-33 Malaysia announces national lockdown to battle virus surge

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VIRUS-MALAYSIA-LOCKDOWN

Malaysia announces national lockdown to battle virus surge

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Malaysia announced on Friday it will impose

a nationwide lockdown for the first time in over a year as it battles a rapidly

escalating coronavirus outbreak that has strained the country’s healthcare system.

Officials believe more infectious variants have contributed to the surge, as well as

gatherings in the Muslim-majority country during the holy month of Ramadan and Eid

al-Fitr holiday earlier this month.

After a new daily record of 8,290 infections Friday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin

Yassin’s office announced the entire country would enter a “total lockdown” from

Tuesday.

This involves the “complete shutdown of all social and economic sectors”, with only

businesses deemed essential allowed to operate, it said in a statement.

The restrictions will be in place initially until June 14.

“The existence of new aggressive variants with a higher and faster infection rate

has influenced this decision,” it said.

“With the increase in daily cases… capacity in hospitals across the country to

treat Covid-19 patients has become more limited.”

Malaysia, with a population of 32 million, has so far recorded a total of 549,514

cases since the start of the pandemic, and 2,552 deaths.

While moderate by global standards, its outbreak has increased rapidly in recent

weeks, and the number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators has hit record

highs.

In Friday’s statement, the government laid out a plan for a gradual easing of curbs

if the initial lockdown brings cases down.

Authorities also pledged to step up the country’s vaccination rollout, which has

been criticised as slow and chaotic, and to provide financial aid to those impacted by

the lockdown.

Malaysia managed to avoid a serious outbreak last year when Covid-19 first emerged

by implementing tough curbs, including a lockdown.

But cases started to rise sharply at the start of this year, leading the government

to gradually tighten restrictions and impose a state of emergency.

BSS/AFP/MMA/2055HRS