KUALA LUMPUR (Kyodo) — Malaysia on Monday reported 36 new coronavirus infections, its lowest daily increase since March 12.
Since last Wednesday, the nation has seen its daily tally of cases drop from triple digits to double digits. The total number of positive cases stood at 5,425 as of Monday, the Health Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah told a media briefing, making it the Southeast Asian country with the fourth-highest number of infections after Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
There were no fatalities reported on Monday, the first time in a month. The total number of deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, remained at 89.
But Hisham reiterated that “the war is not over yet” and urged the public not to be complacent even if the 6-week partial lockdown is lifted on April 28.
The number of cases may rise again over the next two weeks, he warned, since authorities are still actively tracking down cases, especially among Malaysians who have returned from abroad, and in localities under a total lockdown due to a spike in the number of cases.
The latest area placed under complete lockdown announced on Monday surrounds a Kuala Lumpur wholesale market in the Selayang district, where many migrant workers and refugees, like the Rohingyas, live and work.
Hisham said, so far, 2,064 people have been tested in that area, with 28 found to be positive, including a 36-year-old man from Myanmar who died on Friday, the same day he was admitted to the hospital.
Hisham added, authorities decided to act fast and target the migrant workers in that area to avoid a situation like the one happening in Singapore, where a huge spike in the number of cases has been seen among foreign workers living in dormitories.
“At Kuala Lumpur wholesale market, we are doing a targeted approach. We hope to screen more people. We are learning from our neighboring country. We need to take action fast to prevent an uncontrollable spread of the virus among the migrants,” he said.
Under the partial lockdown imposed nationwide since March 18, the authorities allow one member per household to go out to purchase essential goods. While most businesses and schools remain shut, companies in industries deemed vital, including banking, certain manufacturing sectors, health care and agriculture, were allowed to operate.
However, in areas designated as being in total lockdown, no one can leave or enter the red zone, and the areas are under the watch of the military and police. So far, six areas are under complete lockdown orders, including the area surrounding the wholesale market.