KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's leader says the country will indefinitely extend a near-total lockdown that's been in place for a month, as coronavirus infections remain high.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday said the lockdown won't be eased unless daily new cases fall below 4,000, the vaccination rate reaches 10 per cent and demand is reduced for intensive care in hospitals.
The national Bernama news agency quoted Muhyiddin as saying he hopes this will happen by mid-July. The lockdown was set to expire Monday.
Daily new cases have stubbornly stayed above 5,000, with the Health Ministry on Sunday reporting 5,586 new infections, taking the country's tally to 734,048 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths.
Only 6 per cent of Malaysia's 33 million people have been fully vaccinated so far, but the government has stepped up vaccination efforts.
Malaysia halted most economic and social activities since June 1, after daily cases shot up to more than 9,000 cases. It was the second nationwide lockdown in over a year and is expected to hurt its economic recovery.
The World Bank has cut its growth forecast for Malaysia to 4.5 per cent this year, from an earlier estimate of 6 per cent.