Malaysia May Ease Curbs in More States as Vaccination Ramps Up

More Malaysian states may move into the second phase of the national recovery plan by early August following an increase in the vaccination rate, Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

The country dispensed more than 420,000 shots for two days this week, a record. That has helped the government exceed the aim of covering 10% of the population in July.

The accelerated vaccine roll-out has allowed the government to ease curbs in eight states even as the nationwide cases topped a record 11,000 for a second straight day on Wednesday. Vaccination coverage is one of three goals states have to meet to move to the second phase, which involves opening up more economic sectors.

“If these positive development continue, the whole country will be able to move to Phase 2 in early August,” Ismail Sabri said in a statement on Wednesday. “The country is on the right track to achieve herd immunity.”

Malaysia returned to a hard lockdown on June 1 after the outbreak began to worsen around end-May. The closing of all but essential sectors is costing the economy 1 billion ringgit ($241 million) a day, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last month.

The country plans to open in four phases based on three criteria: vaccination coverage, the number of daily cases, and manageable level of ICU bed usage. Sectors allowed to operate in phase two are book and stationery shops, car wash services, barber and electrical appliances shops.

Selangor, the nation’s most industrialized state, and the capital city of Kuala Lumpur continue to account for the bulk of the daily new infections.

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