Malaysia to impose nationwide lockdown amid record Covid surge

Bangkok, May 28 (EFE).- Malaysia on Friday announced a nationwide lockdown between Jun. 1-14 that would restrict people’s movements and shut down most businesses and companies as the country registered a record daily caseload of Covid-19 infections..

The decision was taken in a special session of the National Security Council on Covid management, chaired by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin said in a statement that a drastic rise in coronavirus cases was affecting hospitals’ capacity to treat patients across Malaysia.

According to health authorities, the country on Friday recorded 8,290 cases, setting a new daily record for the fourth consecutive day and taking the total caseload to over 541,000. Around 2,500 people have died from the disease so far.

Since May 20, Malaysia has witnessed a rapid surge in cases amid the second wave of the pandemic that started in early April according to experts..

With a population of 33 million, the southeast Asian nation has overtaken India in terms of daily cases per million inhabitants: Malaysia’s seven-day rolling average stands at 211.3 compared to India’s 165.3.

In mid-May authorities set up more beds and camp hospitals to attend to patients who need intensive care, seeking to prevent a collapse of the health system.

“Mortuaries are overflowing and containers are now commissioned daily in the Government hospitals to keep the dead. (…) The scene is apocalyptic,” the federation of private medical practitioners associations said in a statement Friday, insisting that the real number of infections was much higher than the official figures.

In recent weeks, Malaysia has registered several new variants of the virus, including those detected in India and South Africa, which are highly contagious according to experts.

Authorities had already implemented a series of restrictions earlier this month before finally imposing a strict lockdown similar to the one imposed between March and May 2020.

Malaysia, which has signed agreements to purchase 44.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 14 million of China’s Sinovac, has so far completed the inoculation of just around 1 million people or 3.1 percent of the population. .

The slow pace of the vaccination drive is expected to pick up from next week with the inauguration of the first large-scale vaccination facility and authorities expect to administer up to 150,000 doses per day from June, aiming to cover 80 percent of the population by February 2020. EFE


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