Malaysia’s prime minister Wednesday issued a plea for people to stay at home to halt the spread of the coronavirus, after a chaotic start to new restrictions.
Authorities have ordered the closure of schools and most businesses for two weeks, as well as banning Malaysians from travelling overseas and foreigners from entering the country, after virus cases surged.
While many parts of the capital Kuala Lumpur were quiet as the restrictions kicked in, there were signs not everyone was taking them seriously.
Instead of staying at home to avoid the risk of infection as authorities have recommended, many people reportedly travelled out of the capital to their hometowns, effectively treating the shutdown as a holiday.
While restaurants are only supposed to be open for takeouts, customers were seen hanging out at some eateries Wednesday, and there were reports people were going for walks in parks which have been officially closed.
The aim of the restrictions “is not to return to your hometowns, to go… shopping in the supermarket, for walks in the park or on holiday”, said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
“No — the purpose is that you stay at home. Stay at home and protect your family.”
“In these two weeks, sit quietly at home… Watch television, HBO or whatever. No problem,” he added.
Malaysia has reported a total of 790 virus cases and two deaths, the highest figure for any Southeast Asian country, with more than half of the infections linked to a mass Islamic gathering a few weeks ago.
The coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting nearly 200,000 people and killing more than 8,000.
© Agence France-Presse