Malaysia closes Singapore border after Covid-19 spike

Malaysia has announced a two-week lockdown to slow the coronavirus after cases shot up.

Prime Minister Muhyiddini Yassin said religious organisations, schools, businesses and government offices will shut until March 31. 

Malaysia said it would shut its borders to travellers, restrict internal movement, close schools and universities and order most firms to shut.

Supermarkets, banks, petrol stations and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open.

He said most international travel would be banned and citizens returning from overseas would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

In the past two days, 315 cases of the coronavirus have been reported, taking the total to 553, the highest in Asean. 

Chun Sing, Singapore’s minister for trade and industry, says the Lion City will not run out of food after Malaysia closed its borders.

Singapore imports most of its food with Malaysia a major source. Approximately 300,000 Malaysian employees commute each day over the causeway. 

The government had been building stocks for two months, Chan said. 

“This means that we are not in danger of running out of food or other supplies brought in by our retailers,” Chan posted on Facebook.

Singapore produced noodles, baby milk powder and canned food, the minister said. He did, however, ask people to avoid buying more than they needed. 

The authorities raised the coronavirus threat level in early February, sparking panic-buying.

Last month’s 16,000-strong gathering at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur is being blamed for the increase in Malaysia’s coronavirus cases, with attendees also travelling from Bangladesh, Brunei, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

“Of the 428 cases, 243 are participants from the religious event in Sri Petaling mosque,” said Noor Hisham Abdullah, director general of Malaysia’s health ministry.

Brunei reported 10 new cases on Saturday, raising its total to 50, mostly among those who attended the Malaysian gathering.

Muhyiddin said drastic measures were needed to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

“We cannot wait until the situation deteriorates. Drastic moves are needed immediately to restrict public movement and curb the spread of the virus,” the newly appointed prime minister said during a televised address.


The overcrowded island of Singapore is especially vulnerable to a major outbreak. Picture credit: Wikimedia