03/17/2020, 11.49
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Singapore secures food after the closure of the Malaysian borders

The measure aims to combat the spread of coronavirus. Every day, around 415 thousand people cross the border between the two countries. Singapore imports over 90% of food from all over the world. Malaysia confirms another 125 new infections: the number rises to 553. Mosques closed in two states.


Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning the Singapore authorities have assured its 5.7 million residents that the city-state can count on "months" of supplies of fresh and packaged food. The government promises to help companies cope with supply disruptions, while neighboring Malaysia says there will be no exceptions to border closures.

Kuala Lumpur approved the measure yesterday to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The new Malaysian premier, Muhyiddin Yassin, explained that all Malaysians will be prohibited from leaving the country from  March 18 to 31. Those returning from abroad will have to undergo health checks and a 14-day quarantine. Foreign visitors, including tourists, will also not be able to enter Malaysia during this period.

Malaysia and Singapore, which split after a short union in the 1960s, have close economic ties and share a border. Every day, around 415,000 people use two checkpoints for work and school, or to transport goods to the city-state. Singapore imports over 90% of the food from all over the world. It is unclear what percentage of food supplies come from Malaysia, but government statistics show that in 2018 Kuala Lumpur supplied vegetables, cooking oil, fruit, eggs, chicken, milk, sugar, fish, duck and pork to their neighbor.

Singapore health authorities confirmed 243 cases of contagion from Covid-19 in the country. Of these, 109 are healed and 13 are critically ill patients. Last night, Malaysia confirmed another 125 new infections, which bring the total number of cases to 553. Of these, 95 are linked to a tabligh (religious gathering) in a mosque in Sri Petaling (Kuala Lumpur) between February 27 and last March 1st.

Speaking to press, Health Minister Adham Baba said "nearly 7,000 attendees came forward to be checked,".  Around 14,500 Malaysians and 1,500 foreigners went to the mass religious meeting in the mosque. The event raised concerns about the formation of new outbreaks after Brunei confirmed that 45 of the 50 affected by coronavirus had taken part in it.

The religious authorities of two Federal Territories of Malaysia have announced the suspension of all rallies. In Negri Sembilan, all mosques and surau [buildings for worship and religious education, ed.] will remain closed for 10 days starting today. The state's Mufti, Mohd Yusof Ahmad, said that the committees managing places of worship will use these days to clean and disinfect buildings.

The Fatwa State Council will decide whether to reopen mosques and surau after March 26, added the mufti. His counterpart in Perlis, Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, said on social networks that for the moment all group activities in the mosques, including Friday prayers, will be stopped. "Muslims are invited to perform solat jema'ah [community prayer, ed.] Staying at home for 14 days, starting from the maghrib prayer [immediately after sunset, ed.] On March 16 up to the isyak prayer [of dawn, ed.] ] on March 29, "he said. The muftì added that the call to prayer in mosques will be changed to say "pray in your homes".

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