Malaysia has reportedly confirmed itts first two death from the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 17, as the confirmed cases spike to 673. The fatality was a 60-year-old pastor from the Emmanuel Baptist Church in state capital Kuching who succumbed to declining health in the Sarawak General Hospital at 11am, confirmed by Sarawak state disaster management committee in a statement. The second fatality was a 34-year-old man who died at Permai hospital in Johor.
According to the reports, the state health ministry was still in the process of identifying the source of the coronavirus strain and the deceased contacts to ascertain those who had been exposed. The health ministry said in the media reports that the second fatality had attended a religious gathering mass conducted by the Tabligh missionary group at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur in the month of February where hundreds had gathered. It said that at least 193 out of those had been traced and have been instructed to self-quarantine.
Most cases reported in Malaysia have emerged from religious event gatherings attended by over 16,000 mobs that included Singapore and Brunei nationals as per the reports. Malaysia has declared to implement stern containment measures in a bid to stem the COVID-19 pandemic starting March 31. During that time, the Malaysians will be prohibited from travelling overseas, and the returning citizens will be forced to undergo health screening procedures and isolate under the laws, confirmed a media report.
All public gathering premises will be sealed off, and schools and universities will be shut nationwide from March 18, the government said in a statement. Tourists from countries across the world will be prohibited to enter Malaysia. The essential operations like pharmacy and transportation will, however, continue to operate. Malaysia had earlier denied entry to the cruise liner Costa Fortuna announced that was heading to Singapore to end its journey as planned. The government turned away the vessel turned from ports in Malaysia over coronavirus pandemic.