Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced Monday a two-week nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
Muhyiddin said that starting Wednesday, the entry of foreigners will be prohibited, while Malaysians will be banned from travelling abroad. Those who just returned from abroad must be screened and self-quarantine for 14 days.
All public activities -- religious or otherwise -- have to be postponed, and businesses must shut down except for markets and shops that sell daily necessities. Schools also have to close.
In a special televised address, Muhyiddin invoked a "restriction of movement order," citing the Prevention and Control of Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967.
"I understand you may find the actions taken by the government as inconvenient and difficult for you to perform your daily routine but this is necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 that may cost the lives of our people," he said.
His announcement came as another 125 new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported Monday, bringing the total to 553 cases, the highest of any Southeast Asian country.
Over 60 percent or 338 cases are linked to a mass religious gathering at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.
It was reported that about 16,000 people from various countries attended the four-day event beginning Feb. 27 at Seri Petaling Mosque. Individuals who joined the gathering have also tested positive for the virus in Brunei and Singapore.