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Malaysia may deploy army to uphold lockdown as only 60% comply

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said late Monday that the country will be limiting non-essential businesses operations as well as banning all visitors from entering the country and residents from traveling overseas from March 18 for two weeks.

By: Bloomberg |
March 19, 2020 2:05:25 pm
Malaysia may deploy army to uphold lockdown as only 60% comply A person rides an escalator at the Central Market MRT station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg)

Malaysia will resort to deploying its army if the public continues to flout the two-week lockdown that the government imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

“If there is no choice, and compliance is still at 60%-70%, I believe that it’s highly likely the army will be deployed,” Ismail Sabri Yaakob, senior minister for defense, told reporters after a cabinet meeting on the Restriction of Movement Order on Thursday.

The country banned citizens from traveling overseas while shutting schools, shops and many public services until March 31 in a bid to fight the pandemic. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged people to stay home and warned the government may need to extend the period of lockdown if the measure fails to contain the virus during these two weeks.

Public compliance was only 60% on Wednesday, when the order became effective, prompting authorities to set up roadblocks to advise drivers to stay home, Ismail said. Police will switch to sterner action if Malaysians continue to flout the restrictions, he added.

Police are also tracking down the remaining 4,000 participants of a religious event that ran from Feb. 27 to March 1, he said. More than half of the country’s 790 confirmed cases, the most in Southeast Asia, were linked to the event, which saw about 16,000 people gather at a mosque near Kuala Lumpur.

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