KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia reported a record 3,337 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday (Jan 14), the biggest daily jump in cases since the start of the pandemic.
The state of Selangor reported the highest number of new infections – 1,036 – followed by Johor and Sabah, with 460 and 389 new infections respectively. The capital Kuala Lumpur recorded 257 new cases.
Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said there were a total of 15 more fatalities. He added that 195 patients remain in intensive care, with 86 requiring respiratory support.
Of the latest deaths, eight were reported in Sabah, three in Selangor, two in Johor, and Negeri Sembilan and Putrajaya accounted for one each. Two of the fatalities were foreigners.
Seven new clusters were also identified, taking the total number of active clusters in Malaysia to 276.
Malaysia has reported four-digit daily increases in COVID-19 cases for about a month as it struggles to contain its third wave of infections.
The police detained 389 people on Wednesday for defying the Movement Control Order (MCO) which came into force earlier at midnight, according to reports.
Malaysia's king Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a state of emergency across the country on Tuesday a day after the prime minister announced that five states, including Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor and Sabah, and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan would come under a MCO.
A ban on interstate travel across the country will also be in force until Jan 26 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Sarawak will also enforce an MCO in the Sibu division, in a decision authorities took following a spike in new infections over the last several days. Sarawak reported 180 new cases on Thursday, a record daily increase for the state. The MCO will be implemented from Jan 16 to 29.
In a tweet on Thursday, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia expects to receive its first shipment of vaccines next month. One million doses are due to arrive in the first quarter of this year, while 1.7 million, 5.8 million and 4.3 million will arrive in the second, third and fourth quarters, Mr Khairy said.
The authorities plan to vaccinate “the most high-risk groups … frontline staff of the security and health sectors,” he said, followed by the elderly and “other adult populations to create herd immunity”.
“If you are a healthy adult under the age of 60 and not a frontline worker, the earliest (you can expect) to receive the vaccine would be in the third quarter of the year,” he added.
As of Thursday, Malaysia has reported a total of 147,855 COVID-19 cases, of which 33,989 are currently classified as infectious. There have also been a total of 578 deaths.