Malaysia will tighten movement restriction measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 for two weeks starting Jan. 13, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday.

In a televised speech, Muhyiddin said the decision was made following spikes in confirmed COVID-19 cases that have driven the country’s medical system to a “breaking point”.

People wearing face masks walk past Chinese New Year decorations at a shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 11, 2021. Malaysia will tighten movement restriction measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 for two weeks starting Jan. 13, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday. Image: Xinhua

“The situation today is indeed very alarming. Our healthcare system is under tremendous pressure now than at any other time since the start of the pandemic. As I have said before, unprecedented situations call for unprecedented measures,” he said.

The areas to impose tightened measures include the capital Kuala Lumpur, the states of Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor and the northern Borneo state of Sabah, among others.

Under the stricter restrictions, all social events involved mass gathering are banned, residents only allowed to travel within a radius of 10 kilometers, and no dine-in for restaurants.

“Essential economic sectors” like manufacturing, construction, logistics are allowed to operate but employers must limit the number of staff who have to work in office.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 11, 2021. Malaysia will tighten movement restriction measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 for two weeks starting Jan. 13, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday. Image: Xinhua

The Health Ministry reported 2,232 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the national total to 138,224.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press statement that six of the new cases are imported and 2,226 are local transmissions.

Four new deaths were reported from the coronavirus epidemic, raising the death toll to 555.

People wearing face masks walk through an underground passage in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 11, 2021. Malaysia will tighten movement restriction measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 for two weeks starting Jan. 13, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday. Image: Xinhua

Another 1,006 patients were newly discharged from hospitals after they recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 109,115, or 78.9 percent of all cases.

Of the remaining 28,554 active cases, 187 are being held in intensive care units with 87 of them in need of assisted breathing. 

XINHUA | KUALA LUMPUR

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