Malaysia to ban citizens from travel abroad, foreign arrivals: PM

Malaysia will ban its citizens from travelling overseas and foreigners from entering the country in drastic measures announced by the prime minister Monday aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly new coronavirus.

Schools will also be closed under the rules that will be in place for two weeks from Wednesday, Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Large gatherings will be banned while shops and places of worship will be shuttered in the country, which has 566 virus cases -- the highest number in Southeast Asia, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Essential services such as supermarkets and banks will remain open.

"I am aware that you may feel that this action taken by the government will create difficulties in running your daily lives," Yassin said in a late-night television address.

"However, this action must be taken by the government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak which is likely to take the lives of people in this country."