COVID-19 in ASEAN: Malaysia preps troops to enforce quarantine, Philippines shut to foreigners, Hong Kong breaks record

Nurul Azliah

Malaysia today ratcheted up its response to the soaring number of coronavirus infections by saying it would deploy soldiers to make sure people stay home during its recently imposed two-week lockdown.

Putrajaya reported another 130 cases today, making it the first in Southeast Asia to cross the 1,000 mark though the full extent of infections in other nations in the region continues to become clear. More than a third, or 48 cases, were linked to a recent mosque gathering in the capital that ignited new outbreaks region-wide.

The Philippines reported the death of a man who’d recently traveled to Singapore, it’s 18th fatality, while Indonesia reported 60 new cases and Thailand 50.

Hong Kong, however, hit its highest single-day increase today with 48 new cases. A second dog also tested positive in the city. The poor german shepherd belongs to someone who’d taken ill with COVID-19.

Southeast Asia’s largest mosque went quiet Friday in Jakarta after mass prayers were suspended due to Indonesia’s rapidly escalating situation. 

Asian stock markets rose Friday on the heels of Wall Street gains driven by U.S. government action on bailout plans.


  • Coronavirus cases rose to 1,030 today after 130 new cases were reported. Forty-three are linked to the Kuala Lumpur mosque gathering. A total of 26 people are now in critical condition.  
  • Selangor, Johor, and Sabah are among the country’s worst-hit states.
  • 12 healthcare workers tested positive, with one put on a ventilator, Malaysia’s Health Ministry revealed today. Three worked in the private healthcare sector. 
  • Twenty-three citizens in Iran and 94 in Italy are expected to return home next week and will go straight into quarantine, according to the Defence Ministry. 
  • A group of 4,000 people who attended the Kuala Lumpur mosque gathering has yet to come forward for health checks. 
  • The country is also urging COVID-19 patients to be completely transparent about their travel history and close contacts after a number of them were found this week not disclosing relevant information, health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote online today. 
  • Defence Minister Ismail Sabri announced today Malaysia will deploy its military from Sunday to make sure people stay home amid the lockdown. 
  • Photos of medical workers posing with signs that together read “We stayed at work for you” and “You stay at home for us” is circulating among Malaysian netizens. 

Hong Kong

  • A second dog tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong after its owner became infected. The german shepherd is from the Pok Fu Lam area. The first died after recovering from the virus and returning home this week.
  • Hong Kong reported most new infections in one day with 48 cases, pushing total known infections to 256.
    • New cases included a Pure Fitness gym member and another an employee of Standard Chartered Bank. 
    • Two more cases were linked to a Pure Fitness gym in Central. 
  • The city is bracing for a larger spike in infections as thousands of residents are expected to return from overseas. 
  • Around 11,000 Hongkongers arrived in the city yesterday, two days after a mandatory 14-day quarantine was imposed for all arrivals. 


  • The city reported 50 new cases today, pushing total infections to 322.
    • Forty-one were linked to previous cases at a muay thai stadium in the Bangkok nightlife hub. Nine had links to overseas travels and contact with foreigners. 
  • The country’s largest weekend market Chatuchak will remain open despite the partial shut down of Bangkok, which has shuttered massage parlors and most entertainment venues.


  • The Health Ministry warned that 700,000 are at risk of contracting COVID-19 in the country as cases rose to 369 with 60 new infections.
  • Bogor city mayor became Indonesia’s latest politician to test positive. Bima Arya Sugiarto revealed on Instagram he is now being isolated. 
    • Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi was last week confirmed to have been infected.
  • A Surabaya doctor may have contracted COVID-19 during his two-week practice at a Bali hospital. He was on duty at the latter from Mar 2-15 before testing positive.
  • Coronavirus further affects Bali’s tourism sector as hotels on the island are now imposing drastic cuts to their employees’ labor hours to keep businesses afloat. According to reports, some staff will be subjected to only 15 working days a month. 
  • Southeast Asia’s largest mosque in Jakarta suspended mass Friday prayers today amid coronavirus fears. 


  • The Philippines became the first SEA nation to bar entry to all foreign nationals.
  • A 65-year-old man who was recently in Singapore became the Philippines’ 18th reported death. 
  • President Rodrigo Duterte today threatened local government officials with criminal charges if they do not adhere to quarantine orders imposed on the whole island of Luzon, which is occupied by more than 50 million people.
  • Police are still urging people to stop the spread of misinformation amid the coronavirus outbreak. 
    • A local pastor has been charged for saying that the disease was spreading in two villages.
  • Total Philippines infections rose to 230 today, after 13 new cases were reported. 


  • Singapore is still working to temporarily home stranded Malaysians amid a lockdown in their home country. Thousands working for local public transport operators are staying in hotels, others have been temporarily sheltered in a sports hall or sleeping rough in places like public parks. 
  • Local businesses and freelancers from various industries including entertainment have taken to social media to lament how their revenue is being affected amid the virus-hit economic slowdown in the country. Economists have said that Singapore is on track to enter a recession.
  • Coronavirus cases in Singapore rose to 345 after 32 new cases were announced last night made up of mostly imported infections. 


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This article, COVID-19 in ASEAN: Malaysia preps troops to enforce quarantine, Philippines shut to foreigners, Hong Kong breaks record, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!