Malaysia confirms first COVID-19 death, victim is pastor from Sarawak

Malaysia confirms first COVID-19 death, victim is pastor from Sarawak

Malaysia COVID-19 (1)
People wearing face masks, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, cross a street next to commercial buildings in Kuala Lumpur on March 16, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Syaiful Redzuan) 

KUALA LUMPUR: A 60-year-old pastor from Sarawak has become the first patient with COVID-19 to die in Malaysia, the secretariat for Sarawak's state disaster management committee said on Tuesday (Mar 17). 

The man, who is from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Kuching, died at 11am on Tuesday at Sarawak General Hospital, it said in a statement. 

The secretariat added that 193 close contacts of the deceased have been traced and are undergoing home-quarantine. 

The statement added that Sarawak has recorded 11 new positive cases on Tuesday, with six from Kuching, three from Limbang and one each from Betong and Lawas. 

They are now being treated at the three designated hospitals in the state - Sarawak General Hospital, Sibu Hospital and Miri Hospital.

The secretariat added that 45 COVID-19 cases in Sarawak have been traced to four clusters, namely Sri Petaling cluster, Kuching (church) cluster, Sarikei cluster and one more cluster in Kuching, the source of which has yet to be identified. 

READ: Amidst uncertainty over restricted movement order, Malaysians working in Singapore look to temporary housing

On Monday night, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a restricted movement order, which bars citizens from going overseas and foreigners from entering the country for about two weeks starting Wednesday to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the country. 

As part of the order, public gatherings and movements in the whole country, including religious events, sports meets, social and cultural activities will be prohibited. 

To enforce this, he outlined that all places of worship and business premises must be closed, except for supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities. 

Mr Muhyiddin also announced that all firms will be closed except for those involved in essential services such as water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, transport, oil, petrol, safety and defence. 

With more than 500 confirmed cases, Malaysia is the worst-hit country in Southeast Asia so far.

However, it is not the first country to report deaths linked to COVID-19 in the region. As of Tuesday afternoon, Indonesia has five reported deaths while Thailand has one death. 

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Source: CNA/am(tx)

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