Malaysia begins movement restrictions

The country registers first 2 deaths due to coronavirus


MALAYSIANS brace for a life of restricted movements, as well as the closure of all private and public premises, as the country recorded its first two fatalities due to the deadly coronavirus.

Malaysia, the worst-hit country in South-East Asia, shutters non-essential services starting today in the most stringent and wide-ranging measures to combat the Covid-19 virus.

Fears heightened yesterday after the government announced the first two deaths from coronavirus.

A male, 34, who attended the “tabligh” religious gathering in Sri Petaling, Selangor, died at the Permai Hospital in Johor Baru after his condition deteriorated and was placed in the Intensive Care Unit. He did not recover.

The second victim is a 60-year-old pastor who died at 11am yesterday. The pastor showed symptoms like fever, cough and breathing difficulties on March 7and was treated at the Sarawak General Hospital after he tested positive.

The number of cases also rose by 120 cases yesterday, bringing the total number infected to 673 people.

Malaysians continued to flood supermarkets and grocery shops to stock food and other essentials, despite the advice from the government that the people should remain calm and assurances that food supplies are sufficient.

Bus terminals in Kuala Lumpur were also packed with travellers who wanted to leave the capital before the imposition of the movement restrictions, which started at midnight last night. All public transport systems and main roads also saw a surge of travellers.

Malaysians were also rushing to get into Singapore yesterday. The movement restrictions bar Malaysians from entering the republic.

Thousands of Malaysians cross into Singapore daily to work. The government on Monday announced movement restrictions, including banning foreigners from entering the country and foreigners from leaving Malaysia.

Non-essential services were also asked to close down in what is seen as the most stringent measures imposed by the government since the May 13, 1969, racial riot.

People’s movements are curtailed in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. Businesses and shops have been instructed to shutter, except establishments that sell food and essentials.

The 14-day movement restrictions order is made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and Police Act 1967. The government has also banned mass assemblies and ordered the closure of all educational institutions. Religious, sports, social and cultural activities were also prohibited.

Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) said the Movement Control Order would cover the whole of Malaysia.

NSC said order is effective at all times without a specific period of time. The NSC also answered many queries related to movement restriction including allowing Malaysian students abroad to return to Malaysia, but they must undergo health screening and voluntary self-quarantine.

“All individuals who work in neighbouring countries, but live in Malaysia, are not allowed to travel during the period and

should inform their employers of this,” said the NSC.

Malaysians are also advised not to go on holiday, while fast food outlets, restaurants or hawker centres would continue to operate, but only for takeaway or delivery services. But all public transport services remain operational.

IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said all Malaysians who need to travel between states or districts are asked to inform the police and obtain a permit to do so.

He said those who need to travel can bring the necessary documents to the police station to show why they need to travel, such as to pick up their underaged children or visit a sick family member.

He added that at this point in time, the police force has not mobilised for check-ups at district or state borders.