Asia Today: Malaysia expands virus measures to more areas

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s government said Saturday that it will expand movement restrictions to most parts of the country, with coronavirus cases nearly tripling over the past month.

Another 1,168 new cases were reported Saturday, bringing Malaysia's total tally to 39,357 — compared to just 13,993 a month ago.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all of peninsula Malaysia except for three states will be placed under a conditional movement control order from Monday until Dec. 6. He said the move will help curb the virus spread and allow targeted screening to be done.

The restrictions have been in effect since Oct. 14 in the country’s biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, the administrative capital, Putrajaya, and the richest state, Selangor.

Malaysia emerged from a three-month lockdown in June, and the fresh outbreak was linked to an election in Sabah state on Borneo island. Restrictions have also been imposed in Sabah.

Under the order, schools and all sports, religious and social events are halted, but businesses can operate as usual with strict measures. Inter-district movement is banned and only two people from a household are allowed out to buy groceries.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Health authorities in Thailand on Saturday confirmed a new case of local transmission of the coronavirus, one of only a handful discovered in recent months. The Department of Disease Control identified the new case as a 37-year-old Indian man working as a waiter in the southern province of Krabi. It said he tested positive for the disease when he applied Wednesday to have his work permit renewed. Krabi is a province on the Andaman Sea that is normally popular with tourists, though Thailand was completely shut to foreign tourists from early April until last month. The country has confirmed a total of 3,830 coronavirus cases, including 60 deaths.

— The Australian state of Victoria had its eighth day in a row of no new virus cases or deaths, ahead of another move back to normal living including no limits on travel outside of Melbourne and the resumption of flights to New Zealand. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce another relaxation of rules on Sunday, including the removal of Melbourne’s so-called “ring of steel.” No longer confined within a 25-kilometer (15-mile) radius, the city’s residents will be allowed to travel throughout the state. Travel freedom is expected to expand again when the border with New South Wales state reopens to Victorians on Nov. 23. On Monday, the state will see the resumption of direct flights from New Zealand, the first international flights into Melbourne since June 30. Victoria’s latest virus wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths, has been traced to outbreaks among staff at two hotels that were acting as quarantine locations for arriving overseas passengers.

— India reported 50,356 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, one-seventh of them in the country’s capital, which is struggling with a record surge. India’s confirmed cases — currently the second most in the world behind the United States – have exceeded 8.4 million. The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 577 deaths, raising the death toll to 125,562. India has seen an overall steady dip in cases after touching nearly 100,000 a day in mid-September. However, the daily caseload in New Delhi crossed 7,000 for the first time after dropping to nearly 1,000 last month. There's also been a spike in southern Kerala state, with 7,002 new cases. New Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain attributed the jump to more aggressive tracing and testing. The government warned that the situation can worsen as people crowd markets for festival shopping, coupled with the onset of winter and high air pollution levels in the capital. India’s daily recoveries have been outnumbering new infections for the past month.

— China on Saturday reported 33 new confirmed coronavirus infections, all of which the National Health Commission said were in patients who contracted the virus abroad.

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Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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