Malaysia’s leader has said a near-total lockdown that has been in place for a month is to be extended indefinitely, as coronavirus infections remain high.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday that restrictions will not be eased until daily new cases fall below 4,000, the vaccination rate reaches 10% and demand for intensive care in hospitals is reduced.
The national Bernama news agency quoted Mr Muhyiddin as saying he hopes this will happen by mid-July.
The lockdown was due to expire on Monday.
Daily new cases have stubbornly stayed above 5,000, with the Health Ministry on Sunday reporting 5,586 new infections, taking the country’s tally to 734,048 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths.
Only 6% of Malaysia’s 33 million people have been fully vaccinated so far, but the government has stepped up vaccination efforts.
Malaysia halted most economic and social activities from June 1, after cases shot up to more than 9,000 a day.
It is the second nationwide lockdown in over a year and is expected to hamper Malaysia’s economic recovery.
The World Bank has cut its growth forecast for Malaysia to 4.5% this year, from an earlier estimate of 6%.