Malaysian health official says curbs slowing infection rate
KUALA LUMPUR: The rate of new coronavirus infections in Malaysia appears to be slowing amid month-long curbs on movement, a senior health official said yesterday, citing research by a government-backed think-tank.
Malaysia, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in South-east Asia, yesterday said it had 142 new cases, bringing the country's tally to 2,908 infections and 45 deaths.
The number of reported cases so far is 1,321 fewer than earlier projected, according to a graph released on Tuesday by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier).
The graph also indicated that the number of cases was increasing at an average rate of 7.5 per cent a day, far below Mier's estimate of 12.5 per cent.
"As you can see, the line is starting to flatten," Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said.
"So we hope in the next two weeks, we can flatten the projected curve even more."
The number of infections has risen by generally 140 to 200 a day since the movement curbs were imposed two weeks ago.
Dr Noor Hisham had earlier said the government was preparing for a surge of 1,000 cases daily.
Malaysia yesterday tightened the restrictions further, limiting operating hours for essential businesses such as supermarkets, food delivery services and public transport.
Any travel to buy food, daily necessities, medicine or dietary supplements has also been restricted to 10km from a person's residence during the second phase of the movement control order from April 1 to 14.
And people must travel alone unless there are exceptional circumstances.
REST OF SOUTH-EAST ASIA
In Indonesia, an 11-year-old girl has become the youngest person to die after contracting the virus, officials said yesterday as the country's death toll nearly tripled from a week ago.
The death toll reached 157 - including 11 front-line doctors - compared with 58 a week ago.
Infections have more than doubled over the same period to 1,677.
In a separate development, Thai capital Bangkok will close all parks as it tightens measures to rein in a coronavirus pandemic by limiting people's movements, a city hall spokesman said yesterday.
Nearly half of the 1,771 infections are in Bangkok, government data shows.
Thailand announced 120 new cases yesterday, along with two deaths that took its toll to 12.
Apart from closing public and private parks, Bangkok's new restrictions, which take effect from midnight, include curbs on convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants and street food stalls, which will operate from 5am to midnight only.
"We understand that the measures will inconvenience you, but please understand that we need to limit social gatherings and have people stay home as much as possible," said Mr Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
The measures will continue for the duration of an emergency decree issued last week that runs until April 30.
The Philippines recorded 227 new cases and eight more deaths yesterday, the Health Department said.
The latest figures brought the total number of infections and deaths in the country to 2,311 and 96, respectively. - REUTERS, AFP, THE STAR