Malaysia’s under-pressure leader extends some virus curbs to June 9 – dpa international


During Malaysia's lockdown, restaurants were allowed to serve food for takeaway or delivery, much if it done by motorcycle couriers (Simon Roughneen)

During Malaysia’s lockdown, restaurants were allowed to serve food for takeaway or delivery by motorcycle couriers (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the new coronavirus in Malaysia will remain in place for another month, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Sunday.

Schools and places of worship remain closed until June 9, as does Malaysia’s border, he said.

Muhyiddin’s government imposed a strictly enforced lockdown from March 18 until last Monday – when some rules were relaxed to allow people exercise outdoors, dine in at restaurants and return to work in sectors not previously deemed “essential.”

Muhyiddin justified the relaxation by saying that Malaysia’s economy was shedding the equivalent of a half a billion dollars a day. He said on Sunday that “the number of new cases has remained low and under control, and there has been a high rate of recovery.”

Malaysia has confirmed 6,589 cases of Covid-19, the occasionally fatal disease caused by the virus. Of those, 4,929 are listed as recovered by the Ministry of Health. So far, 108 people have died after being infected.

Muhyiddin took office on March 1 after a week-long power vacuum that arose in the wake of the resignation of the world’s oldest head of government, 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir – who in early March claimed the backing of 114 members of parliament, enough for a majority – has filed a motion of no-confidence in Muhyiddin, his former home affairs minister, ahead of a one-day parliament sitting on May 18.

Mahathir and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Saturday that they do not recognize Muhyiddin’s government, which is propped up by parties defeated by a Mahathir-led coalition in 2018’s parliamentary election.

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