Coronavirus: Over 400 people arrested in Malaysia for breaching movement control order

A soldier and a police officer wearing protective masks show a placard to a motorcyclist at a roadblock in Kuala Lumpur on March 23, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - More than 400 people in Malaysia have been arrested over the last two days for flouting the country's movement control order (MCO), which has shut schools and businesses and only allows people to leave their homes for essential goods and services such as food and medical care.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said while about 97 per cent of people have complied with the order, there were 482 people arrested over Thursday (March 26) and Friday for disallowed activities, such as holding Friday prayers at mosques and jogging in their neighbourhoods.

"We believe sterner and firmer action by the police have contributed to the higher compliance to the MCO. However, the arrests show that there are still many out there who do not abide by the MCO," Datuk Seri Ismail said at a press conference on Saturday.

A total of 116 people were found to have held Friday prayers despite the directive clearly stating that such an act was not allowed during the MCO, he added.

"Five mosques are also still hosting prayers and this should not be the way. We hope all Malaysians comply fully with the MCO," he said.

Action has also been taken against those who jog, even in gated communities, he added.

"On Friday, the police conducted 1,046 roadblocks nationwide and checked 240,544 vehicles.

The high number of checks, he said, revealed there are still many people on the road during the MCO period, which began on March 18 and will continue to April 14.

"I was even sent videos of traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor," Mr Ismail said.

Earlier on Saturday Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa said army and police personnel manning roadblocks in the capital will now be armed with thermometers . He said those found to be having a fever may be detained and taken for health screenings.

Malaysia is grappling with the highest number of coronavirus cases in South-east Asia. It has reported 2,161 infections and 26 deaths so far.

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