Coronavirus: Malaysia nabs 28 people for breaking movement curbs, one person fined

A police officer in Kuala Lumpur on March 24, 2020, pointing at a drone which is used by Malaysian police to remind citizens to stay at home during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities have arrested 28 people for defying the government's movement curbs and one person was fined, as the country reported an improved 95 per cent compliance of the restricted movement order (RMO) by the public.

The government is mulling stricter movement controls in four Covid-19 hotspots in Kuala Lumpur constituencies in a bid to tamp down further the spread of the virus, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Tuesday (March 24), the seventh day of the 14-day RMO that kicked in last Wednesday (March 18).

"We have warned the public that the police will go from advising them to stay at home to taking action against those who do not," said Datuk Seri Ismail.

"Our advice is that the public comply with the MCO to avoid action and arrest by the police," he said, referring to movement control order, another name for the RMO.

A Malaysian court in Perak on Tuesday fined mechanic S. Punniamurthy, 33, for obstructing a police officer from discharging his duty in enforcing the 14-day RMO.

He pleaded guilty to the charge in the Magistrate's Court and was fined RM5,000 (S$1,632), in default 10 months' jail, for the offence.

The 95 per cent compliance compared to a 90 per cent compliance announced by Mr Ismail days earlier.

He had said that a 90 per cent compliance meant that 3.2 million people out of Malaysia's 32 million people, were not following the RMO.

"We can see that roads are clear because the public are staying home. We are pleased to see improvements in the compliance rate," he added, comparing the latest figure with the one recorded on March 22, which was 92 per cent.

On Monday, the authorities conducted 1,029 roadblocks and 163,687 vehicles were checked nationwide to monitor the movement of the people.

Meanwhile, the government had identified four KL parliamentary constituencies - Lembah Pantai, Titiwangsa, Kepong and Cheras - as being "red zones" for having most of the Covid-19 positive cases.

"We will come out with a standard operating procedure that is more detailed concerning areas of high risk, or red zones," he said in a televised news conference on Tuesday.

Malaysia on Tuesday recorded its 15th death caused by the virus, a 71-year-old man from Melaka, who had come into contact with another Covid-19 positive person who had attended an Islamic religious gathering organised by the Tabligh missionary group at a mosque in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

He was the 10th fatality from the Tabligh cluster, as identified by the National Security Council.

Malaysia also on Tuesday announced 106 new infections, bringing the number to 1,624 - the highest number of coronavirus cases in South-east Asia.

Health Ministry's director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said 64 patients are currently being treated in the intensive care unit, with 27 cases needing respiratory assistance.

To date, a total of 19 government healthcare workers and five from the private healthcare sector have also tested positive for Covid-19.

The Malaysian authorities also announced that drones will be deployed which will target hot spots and those who are "still stubborn".

"The drones are able to record live footage. We will also be able to identify those captured in the footage. If and when needed, personnel will also be deployed at certain locations (after footage is captured)," Armed Forces chief Affendi Buang told reporters.

"We hope the use of the drones can enable a more efficient patrol and monitoring of the people during the MCO," he added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.