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Malaysia extends Covid-19 curbs by 2 weeks; reports record high deaths

Country hits record highs in deaths and number of people in intensive care

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia yesterday extended its coronavirus curbs by two weeks as the country hit record highs in deaths and the number of people in intensive care.

The lockdown, which covered all but one state and was to end tomorrow, will now continue until Feb 18, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

"The Health Ministry has confirmed that daily cases in all states are still showing a rising trend... the sporadic spread in the community is also high," he said in a televised address.

The lockdown will allow some leeway for businesses to continue operating, especially micro-enterprises and small-time traders, but continue to bar interstate travel and social activities, the minister said.

There was a record high 21 deaths, the highest number of fatalities in a single day by far.

The number of patients in intensive care also went up to an unprecedented 327 people, with 145 requiring ventilators.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said the death toll is now 791.

There were 3,455 cases, a slight reduction after infections stayed above the 4,000 mark over the past five days.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's Health Minister said yesterday a newly detected outbreak, which has infected 301 people and spread to 10 provinces and cities, is caused by the more contagious British variant.

"The new variant is spreading fast, we have to be faster," Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who heads the Covid-19 task force, said.

Vietnam reported 31 cases yesterday.

Separately, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused the European Union of holding up vaccine supplies to other countries, and complained that less wealthy countries lacked the power to secure all the doses sought.

"This is a fight among the highest bidders, who can pay first," Mr Duterte said.

"We are not rich," he said, although he assured the public his government has the funds to procure vaccines.

The Philippines has more than 527,000 confirmed cases - among the highest in Asia - and 10,807 deaths.

It has lagged regional peers in securing vaccines, with which Manila hopes this year to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of the population. - REUTERS, THE STAR

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