Malaysian king declares state of emergency to fight virus

Shoppers wearing face masks, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus buy groceries at a supermarket in Bentong, in Malaysia’s Pahang state on January 11, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Malaysia's king Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency to fight a surge in coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm the country's healthcare system.



Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah "is of the opinion that the Covid-19 outbreak in the country is at a very critical stage and that there was a need for the emergency," said a statement from the national palace.



Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had requested an emergency be declared in a meeting with the King on Monday, the statement said. 



It will last until August 1 but could be lifted earlier if the rate of new infections slows, it added. 



An emergency declaration allows for the suspension of parliament and political activities at a time when Muhyiddin's 10-month old government looks increasingly unstable, and is likely to spark criticism he is undermining democracy.



It came a day after Muhyiddin announced strict new curbs across more than half the country, including ordering people to stay at home for all but essential purposes and the closure of most businesses.



He warned the healthcare system was "at breaking point".

© Agence France-Presse


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