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11 Apr 2020 | 09:32 AM UTC

Malaysia: Additional COVID-19 cases confirmed April 11 /update 13

Malaysian authorities report 184 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on April 11, resulting in the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia; further spread of the virus expected in the near term.

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Event

Malaysian health authorities have reported 184 additional confirmed cases and three new associated deaths of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease on Saturday, April 11. The additional cases bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19  cases to 4530, the highest number of cases confirmed in any country in Southeast Asia. The additional COVID-19 associated fatalities also bring the death total to 73.

Government officials announced the extension of ongoing movement and travel restrictions for an additional two weeks, through Tuesday, April 28, in continued efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

On Sunday, April 5, local authorities suspended all international flights at Penang International Airport (PIA). However, domestic flights will continue to operate as usual. All inbound flights will now land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) and passengers will be quarantined upon arrival. To date, there are no restrictions in place for foreign nationals that wish to leave Malaysia or with travelers intending to transit/transfer within terminals at KUL.

Foreign nationals will not be able to enter Malaysia until at least April 28, except for those with diplomatic passports, permanent residence status, or who are an "expatriate in an essential service." Individuals with working visas or "Malaysia My Second Home" visas do not qualify for an exemption and will be denied entry. Additionally, those who are permitted entry into the country will face mandatory quarantine for 14 days in centers designated by the government.

Under the Movement Control Order (MCO) issued on Wednesday, April 1, eateries, markets, and petrol stations will only be allowed to operate from 08:00 to 20:00 (local time). In addition, authorities added that more roadblocks will be set up, and checks on the movement of people will be increased. The restrictions will not affect public transport, including taxis and e-hailing services, which will operate from 06:00 to 22:00. The government has also recommended the public to use delivery options to purchase meals and groceries, but to minimise their contact with delivery riders. Additionally, vehicles delivering or collecting essential goods are advised to operate between 19:00 to 07:00 to avoid backlogs.

Further spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands. 
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.