Coconuts COVID-19 Report: Malaysia extends lockdown two weeks

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in an undated file photo. Photo: Zukiman Mohamad
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in an undated file photo. Photo: Zukiman Mohamad

Malaysia has extended its lockdown another two weeks while Singapore implements stricter measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

Thailand revealed a financial aid package of nearly THB200 billion (US$6.1 billion) that includes soft loans and stipends to its informal workforce of freelancers, contractors and the self-employed amid the gloomy economy forecast. Later in the day, it became the latest nation to attempt to close itself off by barring entry to non-Thais.

Otherwise the daily trickle of new cases and deaths continued across the region as the global pandemic’s official infection count closed in on half a million people, though the actual number is certainly much higher. Laos and Myanmar yesterday became the last nations in ASEAN to confirm the virus is active within their borders. 

Around 60 Indonesians are stranded a quarantined vessel off Italy, one of a number of cruise ships remaining in operation, after 36 passengers tested positive. 

President Rodrigo Duterte became a more powerful man today after signing a bill granting himself additional powers, ostensibly to deal with the worsening situation in the Philippines.

Markets across Asia rallied along with those in Europe and the states, with indices across the board moving upward in apparent relief at the passage of a massive American economic recovery package.

More updates from Coconuts newsrooms in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. 

Malaysia

  • Malaysia will extend its lockdown two weeks until April 14 as its tally of infections continues to rise.
  • The death toll hit 19 today. One of the latest involved a 66-year-old patient who was already in critical condition when admitted to a hospital in Johor. The source of infection was still being investigated. 

Singapore

  • Singapore’s busy nightlife will go dark in one of a raft of new measures aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19. Bars and nightclubs must cease operation by 12am on Friday morning.
    • Police will conduct a patrol to make sure none host any big farewell bashes that could draw large crowds. 
  • Around 39,000 people have been tested in Singapore, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong revealed in parliament today. Infections are expected to increase as 200,000 Singaporeans are expected to return soon from overseas.
  • Mild-to-moderate patients who require limited medical care will be transferred to private hospitals and government quarantine facilities, freeing space at public hospitals for more severe cases. 
  • The government is expanding its contact tracing capacity from three to 24 teams, allowing 4,000 contacts of COVID-19 cases to be traced each day. 
  • A majority of Singapore’s imported infections had traveled to the United States, the United Kingdom and Indonesia. 

Indonesia

  • China has sent medical supplies including test kits and masks to Indonesia. Around 125,000 test kits have been distributed to three virus-hit areas: Jakarta, West Java and Banten, The Jakarta Post reported.
  • Sixty Indonesians are reportedly stranded in a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Italy. Thirty-six passengers tested positive after disembarking the Costa Luminosa in Marseilles, France, according to Reuters
  • Indonesia’s death toll rose to 58 today.

Philippines

  • President Rodrigo Duterte early this morning signed a bill granting him additional powers to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.
  • A second Philippines lawmaker has tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Aquilino Pimentel III revealed the news today, five days after taking his swab test.
  • Major hospitals in Metro Manila have shut its doors to suspected COVID-19 cases citing overcapacity.
  • President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed sadness over the death of healthcare professionals. Two doctors have died from the disease, according to The Guardian.

Hong Kong

  • Coronavirus cases rose to 410 today after 24 new cases were reported. New patients include five students returning from overseas. 
  • In more lighthearted news, Hongkongers “working” from home amid the coronavirus crisis have been turning to porn, according to latest statistics by PornHub.

Thailand

  • Hours before Thailand’s state of emergency came into effect at midnight, officials announced a raft of measures including a travel ban with limited exceptions.
  • Thai health officials assured the public today that bodies of those who die from the coronavirus are unable to spread the virus.
  • At least two health workers were among 107 new COVID-19 cases reported in Thailand today. Total infections inches closer to the 1,000-mark, at 934.
  • Freelancers, contractors and the self-employed will be eligible to receive THB5,000 for three months amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Related:

Singapore bars, cinemas, nightclubs to close till end-April due to COVID-19
Duterte signs law granting him additional powers in fight against coronavirus
Senator Pimentel tests positive for COVID-19, becomes 2nd Filipino lawmaker to contract virus
More major Metro Manila hospitals declare full capacity, shut to COVID-19 patients
As if you needed another reason to avoid LKF, new COVID-19 cases linked to nightlife hub
COVID-19 dead can’t spread virus: health officials

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