Malaysia will deploy its military from tomorrow to help the police enforce the government’s order for people to stay home, as the number of coronavirus infections climbed to 1,030 yesterday.
Defence Minister Ismail Sabri told a news conference yesterday that the decision was made at a national emergency meeting to have the military assist the police with the restriction of movement order.
“The military will be deployed from Sunday. We are confident that with help from the military, the control order will be better implemented. And we hope the people will continue to comply with the government’s instructions,” he said.
He added that many Malaysians were still flouting the order by eating out and taking their families to parks despite police warnings to disperse.
He said that in the first few days, the police will advise the public to comply with the order. “After that, we will not compromise and will take action according to the law.”
He also warned the public not to spread fake news.
On Thursday, several audio recordings were shared on WhatsApp alleging that the defence minister would announce an emergency order after obtaining the king’s consent, he said.
“I don’t intend to do that… So please, do not believe in such fake news,” he added.
Except for essential services such as supermarkets, banks, petrol stations and pharmacies which will remain open, schools, offices, parks and places of worship have been shut from Wednesday until March 31 under the restriction of movement order.
Malaysia, which has the highest number of coronavirus infections in South-east Asia, yesterday recorded another 130 new cases, bringing the total to 1,030. Three people in Malaysia have died so far from Covid-19.
About two-thirds of the cases are linked to a religious gathering held at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur late last month, which was attended by about 16,000 people.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah revealed yesterday that 15 healthcare workers have contracted the virus.
Dr Noor Hisham said that of the 15 infected healthcare workers, 12 are working for the ministry, while three are from the private healthcare sector. He said one of the 12 is in an intensive care unit and needs ventilator support.
The government also banned exports of face masks from Wednesday. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi said the price of the three-ply face mask will now cost RM2 (66 Singapore cents) instead of 80 sen per piece due to a rise in the cost of materials used.
Last night, the Malaysian King, Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin, spoke on television urging everyone to stay home and not to attend social gatherings, and to postpone wedding celebrations.
He also told the public not to panic, saying that food supplies are sufficient, and to take care of personal hygiene, wear masks and practise social distancing.
Earlier, during the day, he surprised Malaysians when he inspected police roadblocks in Kuala Lumpur to make sure people were complying with the restricted movement curbs.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has inspected several locations where police set up roadblocks due to the MCO around Kuala Lumpur,” Istana Negara said on its Instagram page yesterday, referring to the movement control order.
Videos of the King, wearing a face mask and inspecting the cars at the roadblock, were also shared on the page. Another showed him driving around the city, inspecting the traffic on highways.