A medical personnel wearing a protective suit waits at the Covid-19 drive-thru test centre in Kuala Lumpur. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Malaysia reported 3,309 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, as the country imposed a nationwide state of emergency.
To fight a coronavirus surge, government has suspended parliament session, with critics charging it was a bid by the unstable government to cling to power.
Malaysia's palace said the king had declared the emergency as COVID-19 infections had reached "a critical stage".
A medical personnel conducts Covid-19 test on man at a drive-thru test centre in Kuala Lumpur. Mohd Rasfan/AFP
The surprise move came a day after the prime minister announced sweeping new curbs across much of the Southeast Asian nation, including the closure of most businesses, and warned the health system was "at breaking point".
Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to declare an emergency until August 1 following a request from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the national palace said in a statement.
It is the first time Malaysia has declared a national state of emergency in over half a century and Muhyiddin, in a televised address, confirmed parliament would be suspended and elections would not take place for the time being.
A woman wearing a protective mask walks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday. Lim Huey Teng/Reuters
But the leader, whose 10-month-old administration is showing signs of falling apart, insisted that "the civilian government will continue to function".
"The emergency declaration... is not a military coup and a curfew will not be enforced," he said.
He insisted he was committed to holding a general election once the country's outbreak is brought under control.
The announcement came after Muhyiddin's key coalition allies started withdrawing support, which could have led to the collapse of the government and snap national polls that some feared could worsen the outbreak.
A local election last year has been blamed for triggering a new wave of infections that spread nationwide.Muhyiddin has narrowly survived a series of challenges in parliament since taking office but is now thought to have lost his majority.
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The closure is set to be effective from 6 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Monday, it is in line with the country’s effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.