Cases have risen as the country’s economy reopens, Southeast Asia News & Top Stories
KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is facing its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began over a year ago, even though just two months ago, much of the country believed the worst was over because the number of new cases eased after an outbreak earlier this year.
After the year-low of 941 cases recorded at the end of March, the country faced a sharp spike in cases earlier this month, with infections hitting record highs for the fifth day in a row yesterday.
Malaysia recorded 9,020 cases – the highest on record – and also recorded 98 deaths yesterday. It was by far the deadliest day for the country since the start of the pandemic.
The country’s deadliest outbreak is the result of a combination of internal and external factors, coupled with a delay in vaccine supply that pushed back targets on the original immunization schedule.
Malaysia emerged from a second lockdown in late February and, with infections showing signs of slowing, authorities reopened much of the economy and schools in early March.
Last month, clusters began to emerge from schools.
And then there was the authorities’ decision to allow the operation of food bazaars during the fasting month of Ramadan which began in the middle of last month.
Photos of poor social distances in these Ramadan bazaars have circulated online, coinciding with an increase in cases.
With cases continuing to increase throughout the fasting month, authorities implemented a stricter Movement Control Order (MCO) in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur – the two most populous regions of the country – during the first week of this month, just one week before the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations. .
But it was too late, as evidenced by a spike in the number of hospitalizations and deaths.
By that time, various variants of the virus had started to spread across the country.
Covid-19 deaths started to hit double-digit numbers earlier this month.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, caught between the need to save lives and save livelihoods, announced a third nationwide AGC since the start of the pandemic, from May 12 to June 7.
But he left almost the entire economic sector open, even though malls and stores are due to close two hours earlier and restaurants are banned.
Its senior health official, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, warned of a “vertical surge” in infections last week, forcing the government to decide on a “full lockdown” and the shutdown of most activities economic, including those of shopping centers, factories and offices.
Dubbed MCO 3.0, the country’s third attempt to tame the virus by stopping most activity will run for two weeks from Tuesday to June 14.