Malaysia warns of rising number of COVID-19 deaths, cases among children

Malaysia warns of rising number of COVID-19 deaths, cases among children

A medical worker conducts a COVID-19 test on a child
A medical worker wearing a protective suit conducts a COVID-19 swab test on a child in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 27, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian health authorities have raised concerns about a growing number of coronavirus deaths and serious cases involving children, after a surge in overall infections forced the Southeast Asian nation into a strict lockdown.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared a two-week "total lockdown" from Jun 1-14, as daily COVID-19 cases and deaths hit record numbers, with the government warning the outbreak may be linked to more contagious variants.

READ: More than 82,300 children in Malaysia have tested positive for COVID-19 so far: Health ministry

READ: Malaysia’s daily COVID-19 cases may hit 13,000 by mid-June if regulations are not followed: Health ministry

Malaysia recorded the deaths of three children aged below five due to the coronavirus in the first five months of this year, the same number recorded over the whole of 2020, according to Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah.

A total of 27 children, including 19 below the age of five, also had to be treated in intensive care between January and May after contracting the virus, up from eight cases last year.

"The health ministry hopes all parties, especially parents and guardians, play an important part in protecting those with low immunity, such as babies and children, from COVID-19," Noor Hisham said in a statement.

Noor Hisham did not say how many children had been tested for COVID-19 or if authorities planned to ramp up testing among minors.

READ: Malaysia records more than 100 new COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day

Neighbouring Singapore also warned last month that new coronavirus variants, such as the one first detected in India, were affecting more children.

On Monday, Malaysian Health Minister Adham Baba said a total of 82,341 children had been infected with the coronavirus between January last year and May 30 this year.

Malaysia's total caseload hit over 595,000 on Thursday, with 3,096 deaths, the third highest total in the region behind Indonesia and the Philippines.

It saw a record daily rise in cases of 9,020 on Saturday, and its highest daily death toll of 126 on Wednesday.

The health minister said on Thursday it was "not something impossible" for total COVID-19 deaths to hit 26,000 by September, as projected by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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Source: Reuters/ad