Asia - Pacific, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Malaysia's king declares COVID-19 emergency

New measures could continue until Aug. 1, says national palace statement

Omer Faruk Yildiz   | 12.01.2021
Malaysia's king declares COVID-19 emergency File Photo - Malaysian security forces inspect vehicles to enforce lockdown regulation as a part of coronavirus prevention efforts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 22, 2020. Today marks the fifth day of Movement Control Order by the National Security Council that will end on March 31. Malaysia has recorded more than 1100 positive cases with nine deaths from Covid-19. ( Syaiful Redzuan - Anadolu Agency )

KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia on Tuesday declared a state of emergency to stem the spread of COVID-19, which could last until Aug. 1.

At the request of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, declared the state of emergency, a statement by the national palace said.

"Al-Sultan Abdullah is of the view that the spread of COVID-19 in the country is at a critical stage and there is a need to decree an emergency proclamation," it said.

The decision is taken in accordance with national interests and people’s safety as hospitals are facing difficulties in admitting new COVID-19 patients at intensive care units, the press release added.

Muhyiddin last October recommended the monarch declare a COVID-19 emergency, but the request was denied. 

In a televised speech later in the day, he said that under the emergency parliament would be suspended and elections would not be held.

Malaysia brought an earlier wave of the disease under control with a strict three-month lockdown. But the situation began to change in September after an election in the Borneo state of Sabah.

Muhyiddin formed a government in March 2020 after the resignation of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He enjoys a thin majority.

The Southeast Asian country has reported more than 138,000 virus cases and 555 related deaths since the start of the outbreak. It is due to receive the first shipment of vaccines – from Pfizer-BioNTech – soon.

Authorities are also in negotiations with Oxford-AstraZeneca, Russia, China, and the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative to procure doses for its population of over 32 million.

New COVID-19 variant detected

The Malaysian health chief said a new coronavirus variant, which was first reported in the UK and is said to be more contagious, has been detected.

In a Facebook post, Noor Hisham Abdullah said the 22-year-old male, who had a recent travel history to the UK, tested positive for the B117 COVID-19 strain. He has been isolated for further treatment.

Saying that there has been no domestic transmission linked to the variant, he advised the public to maintain high standards of hygiene and wash their hands frequently besides following other precautions.

*Writing by Burak Dag in Ankara, and Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian-language service in Jakarta

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