Malaysia gets tough to make sure people comply with coronavirus curbs
It plans to shut firms that don't follow guidelines, raise fines for repeat offenders
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will shut down businesses that fail to comply with the strict health guidelines as part of a tougher approach to ensure people follow coronavirus curbs.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday in a pre-recorded message aired over television and social media that the army, which has been helping police man roadblocks during the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO), will be given powers to make arrests.
The government plans to raise fines for repeat offenders of the MCO and jail them for certain offences, he said.
Mr Muhyiddin also said the public healthcare system has reached a breaking point with the increase in Covid-19 cases and the problem must be addressed before it collapses.
So, he said, the government has begun collaborating with private healthcare service providers to ease the burden on overloaded public hospitals.
Mr Muhyiddin said the government has already started collaborating with 31 hospitals to outsource treatment for a fraction of non-Covid-19 patients with an allocation of RM27 million (S$9 million).
He said private hospitals were preparing 1,344 beds in normal wards and 65 beds in intensive care units for Covid-19 patients as of Wednesday.
Separately, Malaysian Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said reunion dinners for Chinese New Year will be allowed only among family members living in the same house. He said this included all activities related to the celebration, including reunion dinners and prayers.
House-to-house visits as well as cross-border travel are not allowed. Prayers at temples are also not allowed, except for five of the temple's committee members, he said.
Seventeen more people have died from Covid-19 in the country, bringing the country's death toll to 826. The dead include a four-month-old boy at Tawau Hospital in Sabah, said Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday.
There were 4,571 cases yesterday. Selangor continued to be the state with the most cases, with 2,056 new infections recorded.
Johor has the second highest increase with 664, followed by Kuala Lumpur with 481.
Meanwhile, Thailand said it will import the first doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine from Asia after Europe enforced export controls.
The European Union last week set restrictions on the export of vaccines from the bloc through to next month, to ensure it will secure the supplies it had bought in advance, including shots from AstraZeneca.
Thailand will still import the first 50,000 of 150,000 "early doses" of the AstraZeneca vaccine later this month, just not from Europe as previously planned, said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
"It will be from somewhere in Asia," he said without elaborating, as otherwise, he added, there would be a risk of another intervention to safeguard supplies.
South Korea and India are among the countries in Asia currently producing the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Thailand yesterday reported 809 cases. The new infections took the total to 22,058. The death toll remains at 79. - THE STRAITS TIMES, THE STAR, REUTERS