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Malaysia mulls shutdown of Selangor state amid COVID-19 surge

Malaysia mulls shutdown of Selangor state amid COVID-19 surge

Muslims wearing protective masks shop for food before Iftar (breaking fast) at a Ramadan bazaar, amid the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kuala Lumpur, on Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's health ministry on Monday (May 17) said it may push for a total lockdown of the country's most industrialised state if current coronavirus curbs are unable to rein in a spike in new cases.

The government banned social activities and travel between districts and states two weeks ago, as part of a Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed before the Hari Raya holidays, as it grapples with a surge in COVID-19 infections that experts have said may involve highly contagious variants.

Business activity can still operate, but the government may need to shut that down in the state of Selangor if the situation worsens, Health Minister Adham Baba said.

Selangor is a key contributor to gross domestic product and employment as the country's shipping hub and industrial capital.

It is also where the world's top rubber glove manufacturers such as Top Glove have set up operations.

"If the MCO is unable to contain the spread, then a full MCO would be something that can be considered," Adham told a virtual news conference.

READ: Commentary: Malaysia’s nationwide MCO - denial, doubts and divisions threaten effectiveness

READ: Azmin Ali among those being probed for alleged health protocol violations during MCO 3.0 in Malaysia

Selangor, the country's richest and most populous state, has reported well over a thousand new COVID-19 cases daily since May 5, making up at least a quarter of the daily cases nationally.

Malaysia has recorded more than 470,000 COVID-19 cases with 1,902 deaths as of Sunday, the third highest infection rate in the region behind Indonesia and the Philippines.

READ: Malaysia’s daily COVID-19 cases may breach 8,000 in June if regulations are not followed: Health ministry

Critics have said the government has been slow in rolling out its national vaccination programme.

Its aim is to inoculate 80 per cent of Malaysia's 32 million population by December.

Around 1.19 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, according to health ministry data.

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Source: Reuters/ga

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