Recoveries top new cases ahead of Malaysia virus lockdown decision – dpa international

Food couriers picking up delivery orders at a café in Kuala Lumpur. Restaurants are allowed to provide deliveries and takeaways during Malaysia's lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

Food couriers picking up delivery orders at a café in Kuala Lumpur. Restaurants are allowed to provide deliveries and takeaways during Malaysia’s lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — For the third day this week, Malaysia’s Health Ministry has reported more recoveries from coronavirus than new cases.

The number of people discharged from hospital during the 24 hours up was 124, ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said during an evening press conference, taking the recovery total to 1,608 out of 4,228 cases.

The ministry confirmed 109 new cases of Covid-19, the sometimes-deadly respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Sixty-seven people have died in Malaysia after contracting the disease, two of them today, Hisham said.

Malaysia’s caseload is relatively small compared to countries in Europe, the epicentre of a pandemic that has infected more than a million people worldwide and killed over 88,000, according to official data collated by Johns Hopkins University.

However Malaysia has reported more Covid-19 infections than any of its South-east Asia neighbours, including Indonesia and the Philippines, both of which have much bigger populations but have tested less-widely than relatively-affluent Malaysia.

The news comes ahead of a government decision on Friday about extending a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, with the central bank warning of a sharp recession this year.

Thursday’s 109 new cases marked the second-lowest daily increase since the lockdown was imposed on March 18.

Though trade with and tourism from China, the source of the virus, were already down, the lockdown has further shackled local commerce.

Almost half of the country’s self-employed people and a third of its fishermen have been left without work, according to an official survey released on Thursday.

The Department of Statistics found that 46.6 per cent of self-employed Malaysians reported losing their jobs.

“For the Agriculture sector, 33.0 per cent of workers in the Fisheries sub-sector reported job losses, the department explained, while “21.1 per cent of those in Agriculture & Plantation” lost jobs, the department explained.

Job losses in the food and beverages sector also topped 30 per cent, the survey showed.

Ninety per cent of those surveyed said their incomes had dropped due to the lockdown measures – which require people to remain indoors and have forced most workplaces to close except for essential services such as grocery stores, banks and utilities.

The department canvassed more than 168,000 Malaysians to gauge the impact of a lockdown imposed on March 18.

Malaysia’s Chief Statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the survey data released on Thursday should help the government address “the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and employment.”

On Monday, the government announced a 10-million-ringgit (2.32 billion dollars) budget aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which are run by self-employed people and contribute 40 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the government.

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