KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia reported a record 3,309 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday (Jan 12) ahead of a renewed shutdown to be imposed in several states from Wednesday.
The tally is the biggest daily rise since the pandemic was first detected in the country on Jan 25 last year.
The health ministry also announced four new deaths. Cumulatively, Malaysia has 141,533 Covid-19 cases and 559 deaths.
The latest update comes even as another minister tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to three within the last few days.
Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin found that he has Covid-19 on Tuesday morning after being tested for the virus the day before.
"Therefore, Datuk Seri Hamzah will be undergoing a quarantine period subject to Health Ministry's guidelines and its close monitoring," said a statement from the Home Ministry.
Economic Affairs Minister Mustapa Mohamed tested positive for the coronavirus last Saturday, three days after he attended a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) meeting at which Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and several other Cabinet members were present.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Mohd Harun tested positive for the disease on Sunday. She was admitted to hospital on Monday.
Two other ministers who sat next to Datuk Seri Mustapa at the Wednesday meeting, namely Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Redzuan Yusof and Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, have gone into quarantine.
Last year, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced that he was infected in October.
Malaysia has recorded more than 2,000 new cases daily for the past week, leaving the healthcare system on the brink of collapse.
Health Minister Adham Baba said on Tuesday those who are asymptomatic or showing only light symptoms will undergo treatment and quarantine at home. They will be "strictly monitored" by health workers.
In the light of the surging cases, Malaysian King Abdullah Ahmad Shah has assented to the government's request for an emergency order that will be effective up to Aug 1, or earlier should Covid-19 cases come under control.
The emergency order comes a day after Mr Muhyiddin announced that several states will be put under stringent movement controls starting on Wednesday until Jan 26 to curb the rising infections.
Five states - Melaka, Johor, Penang, Selangor and Sabah - and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya will re-enter the movement control order (MCO), where social gatherings are banned and dine-ins are not allowed in eateries.
Only two people per household are allowed to go out and buy groceries, and they can travel only within a 10km radius from home.
The states of Pahang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan will be placed under the less-stringent conditional MCO, while Perlis and Sarawak will be placed under the recovery phase of the MCO.
Under the conditional MCO, most businesses are allowed to operate but religious, cultural, recreational, and sporting activities are banned. And the states under recovery MCO allow social gatherings and inter-state travels with some limitations such as safe distancing.