Strict lockdown in Malaysia as hospitals near collapse

Bangkok, Jun 1 (EFE).- Malaysia began Tuesday a strict national lockdown for a minimum of two weeks in an attempt to offset a new Covid-19 outbreak that has left the nation’s healthcare system close to collapse.

The country entered a second lockdown after registering the highest infection rate of the Asian continent and a sudden surge in Covid-19 patients attributed to new more infectious variants of the virus.

Most businesses will have to remain shut and only 17 economic sectors deemed essential will be allowed to continue running, including banking, grocery retail, fishers, and farmers.

Schools have been closed since early May, and restaurants are only allowed to serve take-aways and deliveries.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told Malaysia’s 32 million residents on Friday to prepare for a new lockdown following a streak of days recording more than 8,000 new daily infections.

Malaysian authorities reported Monday more than 6,800 new infections and 67 deaths.

Since the pandemic began, Malaysia has registered a total 572,000 infected and 2,796 deaths.

Muhyiddin announced a new stimulus package to soften the blow to the economy with roughly 40 billion Malaysian Ringgit (close to $9.5 billion and about 7.9 billion euros).

Hisham Abdullah, who leads the Malaysian government’s response to the pandemic, said Sunday there is a risk that the number of Covid-19 patients may exceed the capacity of medical facilities.

Back in May, Malaysian authorities increased the number of hospital beds to allocate new Covid-19 patients, as well as new spaces to store the bodies of those who have died. EFE

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