Malaysia records third coronavirus death as cases surge beyond 1,000

A photo taken on Feb 3, 2020 shows a nurse checking the temperature of a visitor as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
A photo taken on Feb 3, 2020 shows a nurse checking the temperature of a visitor as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia recorded another death from the coronavirus pandemic on Friday (March 20), as the number of cases in the country surged above 1,000.

This brings the total coronavirus deaths in the country to three. 

Health ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said the deceased was a 58-year-old man who had attended a mass religious gathering by the Tabligh missionary group held in late February at a mosque in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. 

He was admitted to Tawau hospital in Sabah on March 9 with severe acute respiratory infection symptoms. 

"He was put on respiratory support and admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) on the same day," said Datuk Dr Noor Hisham.

"His health continued to deteriorate and he was confirmed dead on March 20 at 6.27pm," he said, in conveying his condolences to the man's family. 

Malaysia reported 130 new cases of coronavirus infection on Friday, sending the cumulative total to 1,030, as it grapples with the highest number of infections in South-east Asia. 

Of the new cases, 48 are linked to the Islamic gathering that attracted 16,000 participants, Reuters reported.

More than half of the cases in Malaysia stem from the religious event, which was attended by about 16,000 people, including Singapore and Brunei nationals.

Dr Noor Hisham also revealed that 15 healthcare workers have contracted the virus.

It is not known if the 15 are part of the new cases reported on Friday.


He said of the 15 infected healthcare workers,  12 are working with the ministry while three are from the private healthcare sector.

He said one of the 12 is currently warded in an intensive care unit (ICU) and needed ventilator support.

"This virus knows no boundaries, regardless of your race, religion or wealth, even more so if you are a healthcare worker at the front line of this war," he said in his Facebook post.

"Our simple message to the public today: Please help us to help you. Stay at home."

Many Malaysians have been flouting the government's restricted movement order by eating out and taking their families to parks, despite warnings to disperse by the authorities and the country's leaders.

Malaysia on Wednesday rolled out the restricted movement order, which will be in place until March 31 to combat the coronavirus pandemic.


The order bans public gatherings, and all religious, sporting, social and cultural events.

Schools, universities and businesses will stay closed, but essential services such as supermarkets, banks and pharmacies will continue to operate during the two-week period.

Earlier on Friday, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the military will be deployed from Sunday to help police enforce the government's order for people to stay at home.