Malaysia to Ease More Virus Curbs as Pandemic Fatigue Worsens
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will announce the easing of more virus curbs in the economic and social sectors soon amid concern over the lockdowns’ effect on mental health.
The committee managing the pandemic has agreed to provide several “low-risk” concessions for the population, said Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in a press conference Tuesday. It is also looking into allowing more tourist activity, adding more destinations in its travel bubble initiative, and reopening gyms, he said.
“In setting these concessions, the government understands the stress, fatigue and lethargy of the people after more than a year of being in a pandemic that has limited activity and movement,” said Hishammuddin. “This situation can’t go on because there is a risk of more serious repercussions, especially on mental health.”
Some 638 people died by suicide in Malaysia between January to July this year, more than double the number during the same period in 2020, according to Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah last Friday. The jump in casualties coincided with a state of emergency and a renewed lockdown that pushed gross domestic product into a quarterly contraction in the three months ending June.
Malaysia’s swift vaccine rollout has allowed the government to gradually ease movement restrictions and allow additional benefits for the fully inoculated. More than half of the population had been fully vaccinated as of Monday, paving the way for the government to reach its target of reopening all economic and social sectors by the final quarter of the year.
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