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Malaysia reports record jump of 212 coronavirus cases

Mahathir criticises government's handling of crisis after country reports record jump of 212 new cases

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia reported a record jump of 212 new coronavirus cases yesterday, with four new deaths, bringing the total to 14.

Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said: "This brings the total number of Covid-19 positive cases in Malaysia to 1,518."

He added that out of the 212 cases, 123 were linked to the cluster from the religious event held late last month.

The previous single day record for new cases was the 190 reported on March 15.

Dr Noor Hisham added that 57 Covid-19 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit, with 27 cases requiring respiratory aid.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad called the situation in Malaysia "a terrible catastrophe".

He said Malaysia, like many other countries, would lose a lot of revenue because of various restrictions set up by the government.

Dr Mahathir, who is in quarantine after coming into contact with an infected MP, said that as the tourism industry is the second biggest foreign exchange earner after oil company Petronas, the government would lose a lot of revenue over travel restrictions.

"People working in the tourist industry would lose jobs and income. This would be terrible because these people need food and drink," he said in a post on his blog chedet.cc yesterday.

He pointed out that the petroleum industry is a big contributor to government revenue and revenue may go even lower as the crisis continues.

"The stimulus package involved an increase in government expenditure and a decrease in taxes. Meeting this extra expenditure with decreased government revenue would be challenging.

"In the meantime, even a partial lockdown would reduce business and profits. Again, government revenue would be affected," he said.

TERRIBLE LOSS

Dr Mahathir also said that for small enterprises, the loss would be terrible and they earn "today for today".

"Even if they are able to do some business, it would not be sufficient to pay for their food. The government may have to give them financial support," he said.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian capital Jakarta began its two-week emergency yesterday, but confusion reigned as trains in Jakarta and its satellite towns were packed, preventing essential workers like nurses from getting to work on time.

Mr Rocky Margiano Simanjuntak, 23, posted a photograph on social media from inside a packed early morning train on his way to work in a bank in the city.

"Government policies seem to be only half measures, just an appeal," Mr Simanjuntak told Reuters through a message on his Instagram account, adding that public transport should not be limited unless the authorities enforced rules to make people stay at home.

The commuter train company in a statement promised to return to normal operations to alleviate such crushes but urged passengers to stay home.

Indonesia reported 65 new cases yesterday, bringing the total number to 579, a Health Ministry official said.

The number killed by the virus rose by one to 49. - THE STAR, REUTERS

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