Coronavirus Resurgence

Malaysia extends movement curbs for 6 states, 3 federal territories

New Covid-19 cases in Malaysia have remained above 3,000 a day in the last eight days.
New Covid-19 cases in Malaysia have remained above 3,000 a day in the last eight days.PHOTO: AFP

Malaysia has extended the Covid-19 movement curbs for its capital Kuala Lumpur along with six states and two other federal territories by a week to Feb 4, as daily infections stayed above 3,000 cases for the eighth consecutive day yesterday.

The one-week extension means that all Malaysian states and territories, except for the Borneo state of Sarawak, will be under the movement control order (MCO) until Feb 4, just ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays on Feb 12 and 13.

The MCO was initially imposed in five states and three federal territories for two weeks from Jan 13, and was scheduled to end next Tuesday.

The initial restrictions applied to Selangor, Penang, Johor, Melaka, Sabah and the country's three federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.

Kelantan was placed under the MCO starting last Saturday, and it was scheduled to end on Feb 1.

But new cases have remained above 3,000 a day in the past eight days, with the daily toll breaching the 4,000 mark twice during that period. This included a record high of 4,029 last Saturday.

On Tuesday, the government added six other states - Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perlis - under the MCO. Their MCO starts today and is scheduled to last until Feb 4.

Only Malaysia's biggest state Sarawak, which has logged fewer infections, remains under the more relaxed recovery MCO.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday announced an extension to restaurant operating hours during the MCO, following complaints that the initial 8pm closing time was too early.

Restaurants will now be allowed to open until 10pm, though they will still be limited to takeaways and delivery.

There were many complaints that the 8pm closing time meant many workers leaving their offices or factories at 7pm were left with little time to buy dinner.

Under the MCO, only certain economic sectors deemed essential can operate.

Inter-state and inter-district travel are banned, while only two individuals from a household are allowed to be out for errands.

Malaysia recorded 3,170 new coronavirus infections yesterday, bringing its total to 172,549 cases since the pandemic started.

It recorded another 12 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 642.

The new daily Covid-19 cases in Malaysia have continued to outpace recoveries. There were 2,490 recoveries recorded yesterday.

The country's total number of active cases stood at 41,755, forcing the government to expand facilities to treat patients. A recently built makeshift hospital for Covid-19 patients located in Serdang, just outside Kuala Lumpur, will start operating on Sunday.

Politicians have not been spared amid Malaysia's coronavirus spike, with four Cabinet ministers infected. Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed said on Thursday that he was discharged after a 12-day stay in a Kelantan hospital, which included three days spent in an intensive care unit.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin remains warded at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

Women Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun and National Unity Minister Halimah Sadique both tested positive for the virus as well.

Three other lawmakers from Umno, part of the Perikatan Nasional federal government, have also tested positive in recent days.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysia extends movement curbs for 6 states, 3 federal territories'. Subscribe