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Malaysia orders 'total lockdown' amid COVID spike

May 28, 2021

The Southeast Asian nation has reported a record number of new infections for four days running. The two-week shutdown aims to bring the outbreak under control.

Police talk with local residents in Cheras, Malaysia, following a coronavirus outbreak there
The strict lockdown will bring social and economic life in Malaysia to a standstillImage: Chong Voon Chung/Xinhua/picture alliance

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced Friday that the country would go into "total lockdown" at the start of June to tackle a surge in coronavirus cases.

Muhyiddin said "all sectors" of the economy would have to shut down during the two-week measure, except those deemed to be essential.

"With the latest rise in daily cases showing a drastically upward trend, hospital capacity across the country to treat COVID-19 patients are becoming limited," the prime minister said in a statement.

Malaysia has been under a state of emergency since January to curb the spread of the virus. The new measures tighten an existing lockdown that was introduced earlier in May.  

Empty streets during a lockdown in Kuala Lumpur
All businesses, except those deemed essential services, will have to shut downImage: Lim Huey Teng/REUTERS

What is the current COVID situation in Malaysia?

The number of COVID infections has spiked in recent weeks, partly driven by virus variants that are considered to spread more easily.

Malaysia reported 8,290 cases on Friday — a record high for the fourth day in a row.

The Southeast Asian country has recorded around 550,000 infections and 2,552 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Malaysia has started inoculating its population of almost 33 million, but critics say progress has been slow. Around 1.7 million people have so far received at least one vaccine dose.

nm/rt (Reuters, AP)