Malaysia extended movement and travel restrictions on Friday for another two weeks, until April 28, as it tries to contain a coronavirus outbreak which has left it with the most infections in Southeast Asia.
The curbs, imposed on March 18, were originally set to end on April 14. But the government reported 118 new cases on Friday, bringing its total to more than 4,200. “It may take a few months before we can say we are free of the virus,” Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address. Muhyiddin said Malaysia has done well in keeping the infection rate at 7% of patients screened, which is below the 10% benchmark set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), while its 1.6% death rate is well below the 5.8% global average.
However, continued curbs are necessary to break the chain of transmission, while the government places a greater focus on groups that are the sources of infection, the prime minister said. This may include continued suspension of schools, though some business sectors will be given limited approval to resume operations subject to strict health and movement regulations. Enforcement agencies will also tighten controls at the country’s borders to clamp down on possible entry by undocumented migrants, who Muhyiddin said could end up being another source of infection.