Heavy traffic returned to the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yesterday as the country allowed nearly all economic and business activities to resume following a period of lockdown amid coronavirus.

In place since 18th March, the easing of the lockdown comes days before it was due to end on 12th May and has sparked fears a sudden reopening of economic activities could see a new wave of infections.

Nearly 500,000 Malaysians have signed a petition urging the government to continue the movement control order (MCO).

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the country has incurred losses of RM63bn since the MCO was implemented on 18th March.

He said the country would incur a further RM35bn in losses if the MCO was extended for another month.

Whilst coronavirus cases have dropped in recent weeks, the number of new infections reported saw a sharp rise over the weekend.

In a bid to help hospitals and healthcare front-liners mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Malaysia, Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas recently contributed RM20m worth of medical equipment and supplies.

The contribution will be carried out in stages, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA).

MoH and NADMA will be channelling the critical medical equipment and supplies, including ventilators, hospital beds and mattresses, thermal imaging cameras, digital thermometers, virus test kits, masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to gazetted hospitals for coronavirus and quarantine centres.

Hand sanitisers will also be provided to senior citizens at selected homes.

Yayasan Petronas CEO Lita Osman said, “We are truly grateful to every single health worker and enforcement personnel who are working hard to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

“They need all the help they can get, particularly as there are more than a thousand patients currently in treatment.”

“Together, Yayasan Petronas is working with the government agencies to provide support at a time when the community needs it most.”