KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s king and queen went into self-imposed quarantine in their palace on Thursday after nine of their palace staff tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah took to Instagram to ask people to pray for her and King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
“Please pray for us!” the queen wrote. “There are only me and my family along with three other staff in the palace. No one is allowed to leave the room, and no visitors are allowed in. Ya Allah, please save Malaysia!”
The queen said she had been “in close contact” with all nine infected staff members, although both monarchs had earlier tested negative for COVID-19.
It is unclear how the nine staff members caught the virus, but the queen said on Instagram that all but three of the palace staff would immediately be quarantined in a hotel, where they will go through the procedures set by the Health Department.
“Each one will have to go through the disinfection process before they board the bus. Their belongings will also go through the disinfection process,” the queen said.
She added that all of them would have to change into new clothes provided by the Health Department.
She added that the staff would be separated into three groups — those who had tested negative, those who are awaiting their test results, and those who “already have symptoms” — who would travel from the palace on three separate buses.
Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur.
The popular 59-year-old queen is known for her frankness and people-centric approach on social media. She has also been sharing recipes and photos of local dishes and cakes with the public.
“Today’s dishes that will be sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre are chicken curry with tempoyak (fermented durian), vegetable stir-fry and salted egg”, she posted on Tuesday.
The Malaysian healthcare system is under increasing pressure as the number of COVID-19 cases rises. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, Malaysia has confirmed a total of 2,161 cases and 26 deaths.
The government declared 11 districts as “red zones” — areas with high risk of infection — on Friday, and implemented a full lockdown in parts of Johor state.