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Malaysia warns of new wave of infections following Sabah polls

260 new cases reported yesterday following the Sabah elections on Sept 26

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities warned of a new wave of coronavirus after 260 infections were reported yesterday, the biggest daily spike since early June, following elections in the country's second largest state, Sabah.

Malaysia has largely avoided a massive outbreak thanks to strict early lockdowns but daily new infections have climbed in the past week, after an increase in travellers to Sabah ahead of its state elections last Saturday.

Yesterday's rise was the second largest since the start of the pandemic, which peaked at 277 daily cases on June 4.

Director-general of health Noor Hisham Abdullah said the increase in cases could be seen as "the beginning of a new wave" and urged the public to continue practising social distancing and avoid leaving their homes unless necessary.

"It is up to us now to flatten the curve. We have done it before and we can do it again," he told a news conference.

Malaysia has reported a total of 11,484 cases of the virus so far, including 136 deaths.

The recent rise in cases has prompted criticism of the government after at least two politicians tested positive while campaigning in Sabah.

Cases linked to travel to the state have been reported in all 13 Malaysian states this week.

TEACHER TESTS POSITIVE

Yesterday, 600 students in Penang were ordered to undergo testing after a teacher tested positive upon returning from accompanying her husband, a politician, on the Sabah campaign trail.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, police said they have broken up more than four million gatherings nationwide since the ban on public gatherings started in March.

"We have dispersed 4,091,339 public activities," chief of police Idham Azis said during a hearing at the House of Representatives Commission on Wednesday. "The police have continued to patrol in areas prone to the spread of the coronavirus."

Indonesia reported 4,174 cases yesterday, bringing the total to 291,182, official data showed. There were 116 deaths from the virus, taking the total to 10,856.

The Philippines yesterday recorded 2,415 infections and 59 additional deaths.

Total confirmed cases had increased to 314,079, the most in South-east Asia, while deaths had reached 5,562. - REUTERS, THE JAKARTA POST/ANN

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