Singaporeans would like to cross the border for a short vacation, cheap shopping, and good food, but to some Johor Bahru (JB) businesses, reopening its border with Singapore is essential to its survival.
Suffering great losses due to the lack of Singaporean visitors, JB businesses have pleaded with the government to initiate discussions with Singapore to reopen the border.
Malaysia’s Movement Control Order, which began on 18 March, has had a significant impact on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and tourism-related industries.
However, with a fresh, larger wave of infections, hopes for a full border reopening are getting slimmer by the day.
M’sia Now Has Over 100,000 COVID-19 Cases
The number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia has crossed the 100,000 mark, compelling the authorities to accelerate their vaccine plans.
1,581 new infections were reported on Thursday (24 Dec), of which just two were imported.
Four clusters were detected in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
Selangor, a state on the west coast which encircles Kuala Lumpur, reported the highest daily figure with 491 cases.
Of these, 375 were from clusters and close contact screening in the field.
Malaysia’s death toll has also risen to 446, after two more Covid-19 fatalities were reported on Thursday.
After three months of fewer than 50 cases from June to September, the country has seen a dramatic spike in infections which has only continued to increase since.
On 10 Dec, Malaysia reported 2,234 new Covid-19 infections, their highest daily tally ever.
In Talks for More Vaccines
On Wednesday (23 Dec), Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin said the country is in talks to buy 6.4 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.
Malaysia has already purchased 12.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as 6.4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
But it’s still in talks with two Chinese vaccine makers and wants to increase its purchases of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Malaysia’s goal is to immunize 26.5 million people, or 82.8% of its population.
It’s spending around US$500 million to buy enough vaccine doses to meet this objective.
New Covid-19 Strain Found in Malaysia
Meanwhile, the Malaysian authorities recently announced the discovery of a new coronavirus strain from samples taken in Sabah.
Dubbed the “A701B” mutation, it is not known if this variant is more infectious than the original.
According to the country’s health ministry, it’s similar to a strain found in South Africa, Australia, and the Netherlands.
“The Covid-19 virus always mutates, and we are always monitoring and researching the implication of the different strains towards the population,” the ministry’s director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said.
“We detected this mutation in 60 samples taken from Covid-19 patients under the Benteng Lahad Datu cluster in Sabah.”
“We still have not ascertained whether this strain has a high infectivity level and whether it is more aggressive than usual,” he said.
Featured Image: Siti Nur Sahira / Shutterstock.com
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