Malaysia PM declares lockdown

By Masiding Noor Yahya

Medical personnel at a quarantine centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park in Serdang, as seen in this photo published on May 20, 2021. (Photo: Twitter/KKMPutrajaya)

A renowned journalist leader in the Malay world said on Tuesday that conditions in Malaysia are getting worse with the number of covid-19 infections surging to 7289, the highest number of new daily infections in the country since the start of the pandemic.

In a message, Datuk Yazid Othman, the president-emeritus of Wartawan Melayu Malaysia (Association of Malay Journalists Malaysia) told the Philippine Muslim Today that due to the high surge, the Prime Minister immediately accepted suggestions for a ‘Total Lockdown’ without exception.

Datuk Yazid is the lead organizer of the World Federation of Muslim Journalists (WFMJ) with Masiding Noor Yahya as protem secretary general.

He was also past president of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ), an aggrupation of all national organizations of journalists in the ASEAN-member countries including the National Press Club of the Philippines and National Union of Journalists Malaysia.

Based in Jakarta. CAJ is one of the oldest and most active regional media organizations in Southeast Asia. It was established as a forum for cooperation among ASEAN journalists in 1975, eight years after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was set up.

New cases breach 7,000 mark

Quoting media reports, Datu Yazid said this is the first time the number of new cases in the country has breached the 7,000 mark. Malaysia’s previous daily record was two days ago, when it reported 6,976 new infections.

The country has logged more than 6,000 new cases daily for seven consecutive days as it struggles to contain a third wave of COVID-19, he added.

The surge has left hospitals low on intensive care unit (ICU) beds with health authorities repeatedly warning about surging ICU occupancy rates and strained medical staff members.

The Klang Valley area accounted for more than a third of the new cases: Selangor had 2,642 while Kuala Lumpur reported 604. Neighbouring states Negeri Sembilan and Pahang had 410 and 211 respectively.

Johor reported 664 new cases while Penang had 380.

There were also 60 more COVID-19 deaths, a day after Malaysia logged a daily record 61 fatalities.

The victims comprise 59 citizens and one foreigner, aged three to 93. The youngest fatality, a girl from Sabah, also suffered from leukaemia.

Many of the others had a medical history of high blood pressure and diabetes. Four of them were only taken to hospital after they had died, the health ministry said in its daily report.

The national death toll now stands at 2,369.

A total of 726 patients are in the intensive care unit, another record figure. Of these, 373 require respiratory support.

Fifteen more clusters were also identified, taking the total number of active clusters in the country to 577.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah warned that Malaysia’s daily COVID-19 cases are following an “exponential trend”.

“The rise of cases started from Apr 1, 2021 and could trigger a vertical surge. We need to prepare for the worst,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

He also urged members of the public to stay home in order to break the chain of infection.

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