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Coronavirus

Malaysia set to extend COVID-19 lockdown, boost aid

Published: Updated:

Malaysia is set to extend a nationwide lockdown that was originally due to end Monday as the number of new COVID infections still remains too high, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.

The movement restrictions will now stay in place until the nation’s daily caseload falls below 4,000, Muhyiddin said on Sunday, according to a tweet from the Bernama news agency. The government will announce more comprehensive assistance to all groups of society on Monday or Tuesday, he said during a visit to a vaccination center in the state of Selangor.

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Extending the lockdown will be an additional blow for Malaysia’s economy, which the government is currently expecting to bounce back in the last three months of the year. The World Bank on Wednesday slashed its 2021 growth forecast for the nation to 4.5 percent from 6 percent. The government said this month it is revising its earlier estimate of 6 percent to 7.5 percent due to the lockdown.

The closing of all but essential sectors is costing the economy 1 billion ringgit ($241 million) a day, Muhyiddin said last week while unveiling a recovery plan. The prime minister unveiled a 40 billion ringgit package at the end of May, the government’s third this year.

Malaysia’s infection rate has declined below 1 since the initial lockdown measures took effect on June 1, from a peak of 1.21 in May when daily cases topped 9,000. Still, new infections remain elevated, with the country adding 5,803 on Saturday alone.

Malaysia expects to transition to the second phase of its recovery plan once new daily cases drop below 4,000, 10 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and usage of ICU beds is at moderate capacity, Muhyiddin said earlier in June.

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