Coronavirus: Malaysia further extends partial lockdown to stem outbreak

Tashny Sukumaran

Malaysia’s national partial lockdown has been extended for the second time and will now only be lifted on April 28.

“Let me remind you that the war on Covid-19 is not yet over. The fight is still on … Just uplift your spirits and continue to fight. If we persevere, God willing we will win,” Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address on Friday.

“We must be prepared to bear with this situation for a relatively longer period of time. The month of Ramadan is coming soon. We can’t go to the bazaars to buy food to break our fast with, we can’t go to the mosques, maybe we can’t even return to our hometowns. This is the reality we face,” he said.

However, Malaysians may still only leave their homes to buy groceries, for emergencies or to access health care. They cannot eat out or visit each other’s homes.

The first phase of the “movement control order”, designed to limit large gatherings, began on March 18 and was meant to end on March 31. But, Muhyiddin then extended it on April 14, saying that it was a necessary move to slow the rate of infections that have ballooned from under 100 in early March to more than 4,000 as of Thursday.

It is understood that the lockdown may last until mid-May, to limit social gatherings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Although the announcement was initially met with confusion and panic buying, the nation soon settled into a new rhythm.

Across the Causeway, neighbouring Singapore is also practising what it has dubbed a “circuit breaker”. Similar to Malaysia, it requires people to remain at home and has shut schools and non-essential businesses.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who imposed a two-week nationwide lockdown on March 25, told Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong that the country only saw positive changes after 11 days of lockdown.

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