Malaysia’s Government on Monday promised to hand out 10 million protective face masks to citizens as concerns grew about the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the local death toll rose by four on Monday, bringing the total number of death to 14, the Health Ministry linked two of the deaths to an Islamic ceremony, held in February in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the ministry, the ceremony was attended by an estimated 15,000 people and has resulted in coronavirus cases in Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand as well as in Malaysia.
The deaths were announced as the government sought to ramp up its response to the growing crisis by ordering 10 million masks from China.
“I have directed the National Disaster Management Agency to look into this and make sure the face masks are brought in as soon as possible,’’ Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Yassin, also announced several short-term measures to assist businesses, most hit by the spread of the virus.
The Health Ministry said on Monday that Malaysia confirmed cases of COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the coronavirus, reached 1,518 after 212 new positive diagnoses.
Malaysia’s caseload has almost tripled from 553 a week ago, the same day the government announced a lockdown, billed as an attempt to break the chain of infection, from March 18 to March 31.
Yassin, however, said that the lockdown could be extended if the number of infections do not recede, warning that the pandemic, which had so far killed almost 15,000 people worldwide.