Malaysia Placed Under Month-Long National Lockdown After Surge in Coronavirus Cases and Deaths

A police officer checks the documents of a driver at a roadblock during lockdown ahead of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations in an effort to prevent a large-scale transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Malaysia will be placed under a near total lockdown for almost a month to fight the coronavirus following a surge in cases and deaths, with people ordered not to visit each other to celebrate Eid.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin made the announcement on Monday saying drastic action was needed to control a new aggressive outbreak before it turned into a national catastrophe.

The lockdown, starting Wednesday until June 7, took the nation by surprise because restrictions on movement are already in place in many parts of the country, including Kuala Lumpur and the richest state of Selangor.

Muhyiddin said the emergence of new virus variants with higher infection rates, constraints on the public health system and public failure to observe health measures were worrying.

Businesses will still be allowed to continue to operate at reduced capacity, he added.

New coronavirus cases have exceeded 3,500 a day in recent weeks, pushing Malaysia´s total tally up three-fold since January to over 444,000. Deaths have also surged to 1,700.

Muhyiddin said all inter-district travel, sports and social events will be banned. He said Muslims cannot visit each other or visit family graves as is customary during the Eid festival starting Thursday to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Sophie Tanno; AP