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Malaysia’s worsening COVID-19 outbreak sparks alarm – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-05-25 08:08:00 –

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP) — The exacerbation of the coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia has alerted and spilled over into the neighborhood …

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP) — The exacerbation of the coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia has sounded a warning and has spread to neighboring Thailand. Thailand recently discovered a more infectious subspecies in the south, probably from Malaysia.

Malaysia has experienced a surge in new cases since April, burdening hospitals and the government has almost imposed a lockdown until June 7.

However, the infection remained unabated, with a record 7,289 new cases reported on Tuesday, boosting national aggregates to 525,889. This is a five-fold increase from the beginning of the year. The death toll has skyrocketed to more than 2,300. It is the third most damaged country in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and the Philippines.

Health director Noor Hisham Abdullah warned on Tuesday that the country needs to be “prepared for the worst” in signs that daily cases could surge further.

The government closed all schools, banned eating in restaurants, banned social activities and interstate travel, but resisted demands for a complete blockade as it could cause economic catastrophe.

Instead, last Wednesday, restrictions were tightened, more teleworkers were working, business hours were shortened, and consumers could only shop for two hours at the mall. Public transport capacity and frequency have also been cut in half, bus and train stations have longer routes, and congestion is increasing.

Malaysia aims to vaccinate 80% of its population by next year and is stepping up its vaccination program, with nearly 2.5 million out of 33 million receiving at least one vaccination. Still, authorities are concerned about the rapid spread of the virus, especially clusters containing new variants that have emerged in South Africa and India.

The outbreak spread to Thailand, which blocked several southern villages along the Malaysian border after identifying infections involving South African variants believed to be more contagious. It is believed to have been spread from Malaysia by cross-border infected individuals.

It has also increased rapidly in Thailand recently, with 135,439 cases confirmed, including 832 deaths. We will launch a national vaccination campaign on June 7 and hope to vaccinate 70% of the estimated 70 million people living in the country by the end of the year. So far, 2.91 million doses have been given using the AstraZeneca and Chinese Sinovac vaccines.

Health officials are calling on the government to diversify vaccine procurement quickly. So far, only four vaccines have been approved for use in Thailand, and only two have been administered, AstraZeneca and Sinovac. The AstraZeneca vaccine is manufactured locally and plays an important role in the inoculation process.

Critics of Thailand’s response to the crisis say the interests of local businesses have played a role in delaying and limiting vaccination efforts.

Food and Drug Administration Secretary-General Paisarn Dankum said the government will consider whether to approve a vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinopharm later this week.

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