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VIRUS OUTBREAK

Malaysian army helping to enforce two-week travel curb

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIA deployed the army on Sunday to enforce a two-week curb on travel. The country has South-east Asia's highest number of coronavirus cases, most of them linked to a mass religious gathering held late last month.

The virus has so far infected more than 3,460 people across South-east Asia, with 86 deaths, more than half of them in the region's most populous country, Indonesia.

Troops joined police manning roadblocks and carrying out patrols to ensure full compliance with some of the tightest movement restrictions in the region.

"Even though police have said compliance is 90 per cent now, 10 per cent is not a small number," Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

About 63 per cent of Malaysia's 1,306 cases are linked to a Feb 27-March 1 Islamic gathering at a mosque near Kuala Lumpur attended by people from more than two dozen countries. The health ministry said 11,000 of an estimated 14,500 Malaysian attendees have been found and 6,700 had been tested, but it was trying to track the rest.

"We need to find them, we need to test them, we need to isolate them and we need to treat them," Ministry of Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah told a news briefing. The person who brought the infection may have been from overseas, he said. REUTERS