Malaysia’s COVID-19 outbreak has sparked concern

malaysia covid-19 surge

A worsening coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia has sparked concern, and it is spreading to Thailand, which recently discovered a more infectious variant in its south, thought to have originated in Malaysia.

Since April, Malaysia has seen a rapid increase in new cases, straining its hospitals and prompting the government to impose a near-lockdown until June 7.

However, infections have not abated, with a new high of 7,289 cases reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 525,889, a five-fold increase since the start of the year. The number of people who have died has risen to over 2,300. After Indonesia and the Philippines, it is the third worst-affected country in Southeast Asia.

Noor Hisham Abdullah, the country’s health director-general, warned on Tuesday that the country must “prepare for the worst” as new cases are expected to rise.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob expressed concern on Tuesday that the number of infected children has increased eight-fold this year, from just over 8,000 at the end of last year, to 64,046 so far this year. According to him, two-thirds of the population is under the age of 12, with 6,290 babies under the age of 18 months.

The government has closed all schools, prohibited dining in restaurants, and prohibited social activities and interstate travel, but it has resisted calls for a complete lockdown, fearing an economic disaster.

Instead, on Tuesday, more people were forced to work from home, business hours were shortened, and consumers were only allowed to shop at malls for two hours. Public transportation capacity and frequency have also been reduced by half, resulting in longer lines and larger crowds at bus and train stations.

Malaysia is aiming to vaccinate 80% of its population by next year, and has increased its vaccination program, with nearly 2.5 million of the country’s 33 million people receiving at least one dose of vaccine. Officials are still concerned about the virus’s rapid spread, particularly clusters involving new variants from South Africa and India.