Students wearing face masks during school in Kuala Lumpur on October 02, 2020. Photo: AFP/Syaiful Redzuan/Anadolu Agency

Malaysia announced sweeping new curbs around the capital and worst-hit Sabah state on Monday as the country fights a new coronavirus surge.

The Southeast Asian nation had avoided the serious outbreaks seen across much of the world by imposing tough restrictions nationwide in March, when the pandemic began accelerating.

The government slowly eased curbs and life had been returning to normal, but cases surged again, with authorities reporting hundreds each day over the past week.

New restrictions come into force from Wednesday for at least two weeks in Kuala Lumpur, neighboring Selangor state and the administrative capital Putrajaya, said Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. 

Schools and places of worship will be closed, people will only be allowed to leave home for essential tasks like shopping, and all sports and other recreational activities will be banned, he added.

Most businesses will still be allowed to operate, as the government seeks to protect a fragile economy already struggling to recover from the earlier lockdown.

Similar curbs will be extended across the whole of Sabah on Borneo island.

Cases have surged since an election in the state last month, and some have blamed campaigning politicians for bringing the disease back to other parts of the country.

Malaysia has so far recorded more than 16,000 cases and over 150 deaths from Covid-19.

AFP

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