Malaysia declares state of emergency due to rising COVID cases

Published on : Wednesday, January 13, 2021

On Tuesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah gave his consent to declare a state of emergency in the country in order to stop the COVID-19 outbreak after the latest surge in the coronavirus cases. It was also declared that the emergency would last till August 1 or earlier depending on the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia. The national palace also issued a statement announcing the King’s consent to the proclamation of the state of emergency.

The sudden decision came a day after the prime minister announced sweeping new curbs across much of the Southeast Asian nation, including the closure of most businesses, and warned that the health system was at their breaking point. It is the first time Malaysia has declared a national state of emergency in over half a century and Prime Minister Muhyiddin confirmed that parliament would be suspended and elections would not take place for the time being. The king also advised the people to remain calm in facing the state of emergency and movement restrictions that have been imposed in parts of the country majorly affected by the latest outbreak.

The areas to impose tightened measures include the capital Kuala Lumpur, the states of Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor and the northern Borneo state of Sabah, among others. Under the latest stringent restrictions, all social events involving mass gathering have been banned with residents only allowed to travel within a radius of 10 kilometers, and no dine-in for restaurants. Malaysia kept the virus in check for much of last year with a tough lockdown but, once curbs were eased, cases accelerated and repeatedly hit fresh records in recent days.

Besides suspending political life, the latest declaration also gives the government powers to take over private hospitals as government facilities become overwhelmed, in order to get extra help from the military and police. However, the emergency is likely to be lifted earlier if the rate of infection slows down. The country has reported more than 138,000 virus cases and 555 deaths. Alongside the daily new COVID case, the country is also experiencing severe flooding in several states in recent weeks, with thousands being displaced from their homes.

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