On Wednesday, Malaysia went into two-week isolation after coronavirus infections in the country shoot to the highest in Southeast Asia, with some shoppers running to supermarkets to pile up on essentials such as instant noodles.
Implementing strict Measures
Malaysia and the Philippines, which has quarantined about half its 107 million population, have implemented the most rigid restrictions on movements of people in Southeast Asia. This has led to early confusion and chaos, though capital markets in both countries will remain open.
Hours prior to the movement restrictions came into action at midnight in Malaysia, thousands of people lined up at bus stations to get to their respective hometowns. Swarm of Malaysians who travel daily to Singapore for work commuted through the border to spend the next two weeks there.
Roads in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, which is ideally some of the most crowded in Southeast Asia on weekdays, were surprisingly clear on Wednesday morning. Some of the cafes and restaurants were opened; however, customers were only allowed to takeaway food.
Stocking up Staples
Huge supermarket chains such as Mydin imposed measures consisting of special shopping slots and cashier queues for the elderly and disabled and introduced a limit to the purchases of staple commodities such as rice, flour, cooking oil, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants.
“People coming and rushing is still going to see the disease spread, said Ahmad Fauzi, 60, who had been up early to shop to avoid the crowds. “They should be more calm.”
On Tuesday, Malaysia registered its first two coronavirus deaths including a man who went to a mass Muslim gathering linked to nearly two-thirds of the country’s 673 infections.
Mydin Managing Director Ameer Ali Mydin explained to Reuters that supply was sufficient at his chain of stores however that “people must understand that they cannot be too selective.”
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, who took charge of the office only this month, has promised there is adequate stock of essentials for the country of 32 million people.
He has closed Malaysia’s borders for travelers, barred internal movement, shut down schools and universities and issued orders to non-essential businesses to stay out.
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