Kuala Lumpur in lockdown to stem Covid-19
As of today schools and non-essential activities closed. Of the 2,800 victims registered since the beginning of the health emergency, more than 40% recorded in May. Infections are also on the rise in Thailand and Vietnam, where a new variant has emerged. Restrictions also in Singapore.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning the Kuala Lumpur government imposed a national lockdown to counter the increase in cases of Covid-19, which has recently been spreading to various nations of Southeast Asia, from Thailand to Vietnam where a new variant has emerged. Much of the region survived the first wave of the pandemic unscathed last year, thanks to the rapid closure of borders and the introduction of restrictions that, today, seem to be less effective.
The experts are particularly interested in Thailand and Vietnam, where the most recent outbreaks are recorded and the threshold of attention is highest. The increase in cases is also linked to the population’s weariness and intolerance of restrictions and to a slow-moving vaccination campaign.
The situation in Malaysia is progressively worsening and the numbers confirm this: in a nation of 32 million inhabitants, over 40% of the 2,800 victims recorded since the beginning of the pandemic date back to May. The official infections are more than 570 thousand, with a record number last week.
The curve up, in addition to the variants that are emerging in the region, there are also the meetings and celebrations between March and April for Ramadan and the feast of Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month. of fasting and prayer for Muslims. In a nation with an Islamic majority, citizens have on several occasions ignored, or challenged, government directives by meeting and celebrating.
The lockdown in force from today provides for the closure of all non-essential activities: therefore only supermarkets and medical clinics will remain open. Most of the schools are closed and citizens can only go out for emergency situations or needs. For months, travel has been prohibited in most regions. The closures, while responding to requests for intervention from citizens, risk destroying permanently activities and businesses that have struggled in the last year to stay open and not fail.
"The impact of the coronavirus on small businesses like mine is devastating," says Lilian Chua, who runs a hair salon in the capital that is set to close, perhaps forever. "The government imposes a lockdown - adds the 42-year-old - but the virus is in the air. In fact, they should speed up the vaccination campaign” in a country where just over 6% of the total has received at least one dose.
A new variant emerged over the weekend in Vietnam, which appears to be a combination of the British and Indian strains, although experts warn that more studies are needed to understand its danger and degree of transmissibility.
In Thailand it was the overcrowded prisons that caused infections to grow so much that today there are over 4 thousand cases a day.
Restrictions are also being placed in Singapore, which for months has not seen cases of internal transmissions. In the Philippines, the government imposed a lockdown in and around Manila in March, but the measures were relaxed following a gradual reduction in infections. Infections, on the other hand, remain stable in Indonesia, which was hit hard last year in the early stages of the global emergency.