Malaysia’s coronavirus case number nearly doubles as Singapore adds new travel curbs – dpa interntional


Sign on a doorway at Kuala Lumpur pharmacy (Simon Roughneen)

Sign on a doorway at Kuala Lumpur pharmacy (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR —  Malaysia’s Health Ministry declared a near-doubling of its confirmed cases of coronavirus, recording a jump of 190 positive diagnoses for a region-high total of 428 as of Sunday evening.

The ministry stated that “most of the new cases” are linked to an Islamic ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts in late February that was attended by an estimated 15,000 people. Cases linked to the event first emerged in Brunei last week and then in Singapore, which as of Saturday night had reported 212 cases of coronavirus.

The three countries’ health ministries have appealed for people who attended the event to come forward for testing and to provide information about contacts and travel.

Sunday’s surge in coronavirus cases in Malaysia was by far the biggest daily increase seen across the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since the outbreak began.

Malaysia and Singapore, which has 226 confirmed cases, account for over half the reported coronavirus cases across ASEAN, despite being home to just under 40 million of the region’s estimated 654 million people.

Singapore’s Health Ministry announced new travel restrictions on Sunday evening, issuing a 14-day “stay home” notice to arrivals from the other nine members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as those from Britain, Japan and Switzerland.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the measures were in part due to people travelling from other ASEAN countries to seek medical treatment in Singapore.

“It is very hard for us to cope with this additional demand,” Wong told a press conference in Singapore.

He added that the new measures do not apply to the Malaysia-Singapore land border, across which an estimated 300,000 people move each day, many of them commuting from southern Malaysia to Singapore for work.

Singapore last week announced that foreigners who had travelled through France, Germany, Italy or Spain during the previous 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit, effective March 15.

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