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Coronavirus: Malaysian PM announces $9.9b aid package

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KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday announced a new aid package to help front-liners and the economy as two-thirds of the country entered its second week of a strict partial lockdown.

He announced the RM15 billion (S$9.93 billion) aid package called Permai, while at the same time announcing that Malaysia's private hospitals have agreed to take on coronavirus patients who are currently treated at public healthcare facilities that are already at breaking point.

The amount is a fraction of the RM250 billion stimulus package dished out by the government under the first Movement Control Order (MCO) announced in March last year.

Mr Muhyiddin said strict curbs, which took effect on Wednesday, should not have as much of an impact on the economy compared to the last lockdown in March since more economic activities are allowed to continue.

"As such, the impact of the current MCO to the economy is expected to be manageable," Mr Muhyiddin told a televised address.

The new aid measures include an additional RM1 billion to fund procurement of more supplies for front-line healthcare workers, including screening kits and personal protective equipment.

Banks will extend a moratorium on loans and restructure repayment for individuals and businesses, while the government will expedite disbursement of cash aid to low-income families and broaden the scope of a wage subsidy plan for employers.

Malaysia recorded 3,306 cases yesterday, taking the tally to 161,740.

There were four deaths, taking the toll to 605. - THE STRAITS TIMES, REUTERS, THE STAR