Malaysia will not re-impose coronavirus curbs for now despite spike

Malaysia will not re-impose coronavirus curbs for now despite spike
The Malaysian government has come under criticism for the increase in coronavirus cases. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 October 2020

Malaysia will not re-impose coronavirus curbs for now despite spike

Malaysia will not re-impose coronavirus curbs for now despite spike
  • Southeast Asian country has seen a steady climb in cases in the past week
  • Malaysia has reported a total of 11,771 infections, with 136 deaths

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not re-impose widespread coronavirus restrictions on travel despite a recent spike in infections, which a government minister said was partly caused by migrants from neighboring countries.
Malaysia imposed a nationwide lockdown in March but has been gradually lifting the curbs, though authorities have warned that they could be reinstated if daily increases in infections reached triple-digits.
The Southeast Asian country has seen a steady climb in cases in the past week and on Friday reported 287 new infections, the highest daily rise since it began tracking the pandemic.
But security minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government did not see the need to reimpose the lockdown as the majority of cases were being reported in detention centers and isolated districts.
“There’s only one or two cases in each state so it’s not something that’s worrying at this point,” Ismail told reporters.
The government has come under criticism for the increase in cases, many of which have been in or linked to the second-largest state of Sabah, on Borneo island, which held an election last week.
Several politicians have been accused of violating social distancing protocols on the campaign trail, while authorities were criticized for not imposing control measures such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from Sabah.
Ismail said the Sabah outbreak stemmed from the illegal entry of migrants. The government would increase resources and personnel to guard the state’s borders, he said.
“The cases in neighboring countries have gone up and the entry of illegal migrants from there have impacted on our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Malaysia has avoided the level of outbreaks seen in neighbors the Philippines and Indonesia, which have 319,330 and 299,506 cases respectively.
Malaysia has reported a total of 11,771 infections, with 136 deaths.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 1 min 16 sec ago

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON:The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.