July 20, 2020 / 9:33 AM / 19 days ago

Malaysia considers making face masks compulsory in public

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia is considering making face masks compulsory in public following the emergence of 13 new coronavirus clusters since the government relaxed broad curbs on movement and businesses last month, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday.

Malaysian health authorities recorded 21 new coronavirus cases on Monday, lifting the total since the outbreak began to 8,800 cases and 123 deaths.

Monday’s was the second straight daily double-digit rise in infections, after Malaysia managed to broadly hold daily growth to single digits since the lockdown was eased on June 10. The number of positive cases climbed by 15 on Sunday, and by 18 two days prior.

Muhyiddin said the string of double-digit daily increases, coupled with the new clusters detected in several states across the country, has led the government to think that it may be necessary to make wearing face masks in public compulsory.

“The details will be announced once the relevant regulations are finalised by the government,” Muhyiddin said in an address broadcast on national television.

Malaysia was among the earlier countries in the region to impose strict curbs on public activity, closing borders, barring mass movement, and ordering all but key sectors to shut operations in March as it fought to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Jan Harvey

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