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Asia Minute: Malaysia Adopts Strict No-Travel Policy

AP Photo/Vincent Thian
A girl wearing a face mask crossing a road in front of Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

As countries around the world continue to deal with the coronavirus, many are taking different approaches. One country that’s cracking down hard on travel: Malaysia.

As of today, Malaysia is placing strict limits on travel. Two of the main points: no foreigners are allowed into the country, and no Malaysians are allowed to leave the country — at least until the end of the month.

Violators could face a fine or up to two years in jail. While second time offenders could face up to five years in jail.

In addition, all non-essential government offices and businesses in Malaysia have been ordered to close. Exceptions include supermarkets, convenience stores and public markets.

All public and private schools across the country have been closed and so have mosques. There will be no group Friday prayers this week — in a country where government figures show nearly two-thirds of the population is Muslim.

Any Malaysian citizen returning home from overseas has to undergo a health check and self-quarantine for 14 days.

This reaction follows a spike in cases of the coronavirus in Malaysia, nearly tripling over the weekend and rising further since then to nearly 700 — including the country’s first two fatalities.

On Tuesday, Malaysia reported 120 new cases — 75% of them linked with an Islamic religious meeting held last month outside Kuala Lumpur attended by roughly 16,000 people.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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