KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's daily Covid-19 infections hit a new high for the second consecutive day, as it recorded 15,902 cases on Saturday (July 24) while nearing the tail end of a third month in lockdown.
The country is now presumably one day away from crossing the one million mark for cumulative Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began last year, with a large portion of the infections and deaths recorded during this year's devastating third wave.
Malaysia has more than 990,000 cases of Covid-19 now. Saturday's record daily cases were slightly higher than the 15,573 cases reported on Friday.
Malaysia's most populous region, Klang Valley, continued to account for a large bulk of the cases. Nearly 10,000 cases - or around 65 per cent of all infections reported on Saturday - were in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, which make up Klang Valley.
There were 184 deaths nationwide, the second-highest tally after the 199 deaths recorded on Wednesday.
There are now 153,633 active cases in the country, the highest since the pandemic started. Some 950 people are in intensive care, with nearly half of them on ventilator support.
The new records on Saturday were logged amid reports of continued flouting of Covid-19 restrictions despite the prolonged lockdown that has severely battered the economy.
On Friday, a helicopter landed at a field in Ipoh in the state of Perak to pick up an order of 36 packets of rice and chicken from a famous nasi ganja restaurant in the city. The order was made from Kuala Lumpur.
Civil aviation authorities have said that they are investigating possible rule-breaking involved in the helicopter trip, which is believed to have involved two men picking up the orders.
Sabah also said on Saturday that rule-breaking among its residents is one of the chief reasons behind Covid-19 cases rising in the state. Sabah recorded 712 cases on Saturday, up from above 500 cases on Friday.
Almost all of Malaysia has been in a lockdown since May 12 this year, with a majority of businesses now shuttered for a third month.
However, daily infections and deaths have only gone up during the lockdown, which the authorities have blamed on the most transmissible variants of concern, especially the Delta variant.
The country is now under a mix of phase one and phase two of its four-stage Covid-19 exit plan, which involves lockdowns of varying degrees.
Phase three, which will see a gradual reopening of the economy, is not scheduled until the end of August.
Malaysia is relying on its ramped up vaccination - one of the fastest rates in the world - to recover from the pandemic. It administered more than 500,000 doses on Thursday, a new record.
Some 16.1 per cent of Malaysia's population have been fully vaccinated, with the whole adult population expected to be vaccinated by the end of October.