Malaysia starts nationwide disinfection efforts to prevent coronavirus spread

Members of the Alam Flora environmental management company disinfect a road in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 30, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has started sanitising some high-risk areas as part of a nationwide disinfection operation beginning on Monday (March 30) aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, the national Bernama news agency reported.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on Sunday conducted a mass disinfection exercise in the capital, particularly around the Sri Petaling area where a religious gathering at a mosque in February led to the spread of most of the country's coronavirus infections.

Over in Perak, local authorities have carried out disinfection operations in areas such as public markets, parks, places of worship and police stations. The Ipoh train station and Tapah district police headquarters were disinfected by the Hazardous Materials unit and the Fire and Rescue Department on Sunday.

Similar cleanup operations focusing on markets, public toilets, food stalls, bus stations and jetties also took place in Selangor, Melaka and Johor.

States that will start the disinfection exercise on Monday include Penang, Terengganu and Kedah.

Malaysia on March 18 began imposing movement and travel curbs to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The Movement Control Order banned mass gatherings, including religious, sporting, social and cultural events. Schools, universities and businesses were also shut, with people only allowed to leave their homes for essential goods and services such as food and medical care.

The order has since been extended from an initial two weeks to April 14.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday the second phase, taking effect on April 1, will include tighter restrictions on business hours for eateries and supermarkets.

Meanwhile, the country's police chief Abdul Hamid Bador said it will be deploying drones to monitor people in the Sungai Lui area in the district of Hulu Langat in Selangor, where enhanced MCO measures have been imposed.

"The drones will enable us to comprehensively monitor the people and the area," said the Inspector-General of Police. "So far, the residents are giving their full cooperation as they realised that the efforts by the authorities are for their own wellbeing," he added.

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Drones have also been used in the town of Simpang Renggam in Johor, where enhanced MCO measures have been in place since March 26 and will continue until April 9.

Hundreds of people have been arrested for violating the first phase of the restrictions, including 649 people who were detained last Saturday.

Malaysia has reported more than 30 deaths from the coronavirus and 2,400 cases, making up the highest number of infections in South-east Asia.

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