Jan 12 , 2021. 12 hours ago – 22:00 KYODO NEWS
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced Monday stricter lockdown rules for the nation’s capital Kuala Lumpur and several states following a surge in coronavirus infection cases that he said have stretched the country’s health care system to breaking point.
In a televised address, Muhyiddin said a 14-day “movement control order” to be enforced in six states from Wednesday will see a return of the ban against traveling outside a 10-kilometer radius of one’s home, while social activities like weddings, seminars and prayers at houses of worship are also prohibited.
Anyone caught breaking the rule faces a maximum fine of 1,000 ringgit ($247), he warned.
Besides Kuala Lumpur which is a federal territory, the states of Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor and Sabah are also under the order.
“Our health care system is under tremendous pressure now than at any other time since the start of the pandemic,” Muhyiddin said, adding that it is “at a breaking point.”
Daily infections have been notching four-digits since November, with a record 3,027 cases reported last Thursday. On Monday, 2,232 cases were reported over the last 24 hours with four new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 555.
Malaysia’s coronavirus cases to date number 135,992, the third highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and the Philippines.
Muhyiddin said designated hospitals in the country have reported bed occupancy rates of over 70 percent, intensive care units are nearly full with COVID-19 patients and over 1,450 health care workers have either been infected or quarantined.
Such strict measures were first introduced in March when the country reported a three-digit rise in daily cases and were enforced nationwide.
Rules were relaxed in June as people returned to work and play, albeit under new norms with physical distancing, temperature checks and masks being made mandatory.
Then a third wave hit the country in October and the government faced widespread criticism for not doing enough to contain the pandemic.
Muhyiddin’s announcement came as two of his ministers were confirmed to have contracted the virus. The two had attended a Cabinet meeting chaired by Muhyiddin last Wednesday.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali told reporters the entire Cabinet had to undergo swab tests on Monday.
Meanwhile, Malaysia inked an agreement on Monday with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. to procure nearly 13 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that will be delivered by the end of February.
The agreement is part of the first batch of a total 25 million doses that Malaysia will be getting from Pfizer throughout this year that will cover 39 percent of the country’s 32 million population with two doses each.
Cr. KYODO NEWS