Malaysia to allow many manufacturing sectors to run during lockdown

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People wait in line to receive AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Reuters) - Large parts of Malaysia's manufacturing sector will be allowed to keep working, with reduced workforce capacity, during a strict coronavirus lockdown to be imposed from Tuesday, the defense and international trade ministries said on Sunday.

Relatively unscathed during much of last year, the country has seen a very steep increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and recorded five straight days of record daily infection counts this week, prompting Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to announce the lockdown from June 1-14. read more

However, many sectors will be allowed to keep working.

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Among the manufacturing sectors allowed to operate with 60% of the workforce are those producing personal protective equipment including rubber gloves, electrical and electronics, oil and gas including petrochemicals, and chemical products, the International Trade and Industry Ministry said in a statement.

Other manufacturing sectors that can run are food and beverages, aerospace, packaging and printing, health and medical care, personal care and cleaning supplies, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a news briefing.

"We hope that the sectors allowed to open will follow instructions given by the government because from the complaints I have received on social media, I was informed that there are employers who force their workers to (go to) work, more than the 60% allowed," Ismail said.

Palm oil and rubber plantations, as well as agriculture, fishery and livestock are also allowed to operate during the two-week period, including the supply chains that support the industries, he said.

Malaysia reported 6,999 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total infections in the country to 565,533, with a total of 2,729 deaths.

Nearly 6% of the country's 32 million people have been vaccinated, according to the website of the governmental Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply.

The government is planning to set up more large-scale vaccination centres and get private doctors to join immunisation efforts, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told an earlier news briefing.

"As the supply (of vaccines) increases, we want to facilitate private clinics, (general practitioner) clinics, private hospitals to roll out the vaccines via our programme, for free," he said.

The private vaccination centres could administer a total of 40,000 doses a day, he said, adding that the government aims to raise vaccinations to 150,000 doses a day. It reached 107,000 doses a day this week.

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Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill

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