Malaysia army to enforce virus curbs, as cases top 1,000

A man in a face mask is the only pedestrian on the usually bustling Saloma Link Bridge in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia will deploy the army to support police in enforcing tough restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus, a minister said Friday, as cases in the country surged above 1,000.

People have been told to stay at home and all schools and most businesses have closed, while Malaysians are barred from travelling overseas and foreigners from entering the country.

But some have been ignoring the measures introduced this week, with people still going for walks in parks and eating out.

Police had originally been tasked with enforcing the restrictions, which will last until the end of March, but Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the army would be brought in from Sunday.

"We are confident that with the army's help, stricter enforcement can be carried out," he told a press conference.

"There are still many who don't care about the orders from the government."

Malaysia reported 130 new virus cases Friday to take its total to 1,030 -- the highest figure of any Southeast Asian country. Two people have died.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin previously appealed to Malaysians to abide by the restrictions, saying they are not an excuse to take a holiday or hang out with friends.

More than half of the country's infections have been linked to an Islamic gathering near Kuala Lumpur at the start of the month which was attended by more than 16,000 people from around the world.

The event has since been linked to infections across the region, including in Brunei, Singapore and Cambodia.

Globally, the death toll from the virus has passed 10,000, according to an AFP tally.