KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia on Monday (Sept 28) said it will impose strict movement restrictions in four districts in its largest palm-oil-producing state Sabah after reporting more than 1,000 coronavirus infections there in September.
The surge in cases in Sabah comes after the state held elections at the weekend, where the nation's ruling coalition continued its streak of victories to win the key opposition state amid challenges to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's premiership.
The election was dogged by politicians testing positive for the virus as the state became the new epicentre of Malaysia's outbreak.
Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said as part of efforts to contain the outbreak, non-essential businesses in Lahad Datu, Tawau, Kunak and Semporna district will be required to shut down starting on Tuesday (Sept 29) for a period of 14 days.
Sabah accounts for 25 per cent of the crude palm oil produced in the world's second largest exporter.
Malaysia on Sunday (Sept 27) reported the highest daily surge in coronavirus cases since Sept 11, the majority of them in Sabah.
Officials confirmed 150 new infections on Sunday, according to the health ministry, with 124 reported in the Borneo state. There was one additional death, also from Sabah, raising the national tally to 134.
Malaysia has reported a total of 9,835 infections.
The authorities have added more health workers and equipment at the country's main Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to check on flight passengers from Sabah, following complaints on social media that many had to queue between three and six hours to get Covid-19 tests.
Those arriving must take oral or nasal swabs, and if found negative, will be tagged with health armbands and undergo a compulsory 14-day home quarantine order.
Those who tested positive are taken to hospitals.
With the polls over, many political campaigners are flying back to Kuala Lumpur, joining other arrivals from Sabah, Malaysia's second biggest state after Sarawak.