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Malaysian army to enforce curbs as coronavirus cases rise above 1,000

Jumat, 20 Maret 2020 / 17:56 WIB
Malaysian army to enforce curbs as coronavirus cases rise above 1,000
ILUSTRASI. Women wearing protective masks wait to cross a street in front of a closed shopping mall, after Malaysia's government announced the movement control order due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 18, 2020.

Sumber: Reuters | Editor: Wahyu T.Rahmawati

KONTAN.CO.ID - KUALA LUMPUR. Malaysia will mobilise the army to help enforce curbs on movement aimed at reining in the coronavirus, the government said on Friday, as it grapples with the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia reported 130 new infections on Friday, taking its total to 1,030, accounting for nearly 40 percent of those across Southeast Asia.

Since Wednesday, Malaysia has closed its borders, schools and non-essential businesses and ordered people to limit going outside, warning of a "tsunami" of cases if the curbs are not followed.

But people continued to go to restaurants and parks, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Friday.

"The army will begin mobilising on Sunday," he told a news briefing. "We are confident with the army's assistance, we would be better able to enforce this order."

People could be arrested if they defy the curbs without good reason, he said.

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The health ministry also urged people to stay at home, saying 15 healthcare workers in the country had been infected with the virus.

"Our simple message to the public today: Please help us to help you. Stay at home," Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Facebook.

Malaysians with long-term entry passes to another country will be allowed to travel out for work, but only be able to return home after the end of current restrictions, the government said on Friday.

An Islamic gathering in Kuala Lumpur that was attended by 16,000 people has been linked to nearly 750 cases in Southeast Asia.

In Malaysia alone, the event has been linked to nearly two-thirds of the total number of infections.

Authorities are scrambling to track those who attended, including hundreds of Rohingya and other refugees.

Around 4,000 of the 14,500 Malaysians who attended had yet to be screened for the coronavirus, the government said on Thursday.

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Citizens of two dozen countries attended, including Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Vietnam's military also said on Friday it was mobilising with "combat readiness" to fight the virus, according to state media.

Infections in Southeast Asia are increasing rapidly. Another 60 infections reported in Indonesia and 50 in Thailand helped bring the total to more than 2,500.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim majority nation, reported seven more deaths, taking the total death toll there to 32 – higher than anywhere else in the region.

President Joko Widodo said on Friday he would use "all state power" to tackle the outbreak.

While many Muslims in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, accepted advice to avoid religious gatherings, elsewhere people ignored the risk and crowded into mosques.

"Allah is protecting those who abide by their obligations," said Aswin Jusar, 76, in the town of Depok, south of Jakarta.

Indonesia has faced criticism from medical workers for a slow start to testing in an archipelago that stretches wider than the continental United States.


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