Malaysia reports 122 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Malaysia reported 122 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 yesterday, taking the total to 6,298 infections.

It marks the third straight day of the case count creeping back up, just as the government prepares to ease movement restrictions.

The Health Ministry reported two more deaths, raising the total number of fatalities from the outbreak to 105.

Of the new cases, 52 were imported, said the ministry on Twitter.

One of the patients who died was an 82-year-old man who also had high blood pressure and heart disease.

The other patient, a 64-year-old man, had a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, as well as kidney disease.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last Friday announced that most economic sectors in the country will open from today, with health protocols in place.

Businesses such as cinemas, karaoke lounges and Ramadhan bazaars will remain closed, as social distancing would be difficult to enforce in activities that involve mass gatherings.

Sports activities involving body contact and mass gatherings will not be allowed. These include football, rugby, swimming in public areas and all indoor sports. Outdoor activities such as badminton, tennis, cycling, golf and running in small groups with not more than 10 people will be permitted.

Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) has been in place since March 18 and has been extended three times until May 12.

The decision to ease restrictions sparked criticism in some quarters.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose political party UMNO is part of the ruling coalition, said the easing of measures was “huge and sudden” and that there was no rush to reopen the economy, local media reported.

Malaysia’s finance minister said last Saturday Malaysia’s economy in 2020 could shrink more than initially forecast due to the extended MCO imposed to curb COVID-19. Malaysia’s central bank projected in April gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between minus two per cent and 0.5 per cent this year. The government will announce an economic recovery plan later this month, added the minister.