KUALA LUMPUR: Two COVID-19 patients in Malaysia have died on Tuesday (Mar 17), including a man who attended the Sri Petaling religious gathering linked to more than 400 cases in the country. 

Health Minister Adham Baba said the 34-year-old man, who is known as Case 178, attended the mass religious gathering at Masjid Jamek. The event was held from Feb 27 to Mar 1 in Kuala Lumpur. 

He developed a fever on Mar 5 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 at Permai Hopsital in Johor. His condition then worsened and he was pronounced dead at Johor’s Hopsital Sultanah Aminah on Tuesday, Dr Adham said. 

The patient did not have any underlying chronic medical conditions, the minister added. 

The other fatality reported on Tuesday was a 60-year-old pastor from Sarawak’s Emmanuel Baptist Church.   

The man, Case 358, had fever, cough and breathing difficulties from Mar 7. He has chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, Dr Adham confirmed. 

The pastor was admitted to Sarawak General Hospital on Mar 14. His condition worsened and he was transferred to the intensive care unit. 

He also died on Tuesday, Dr Adham added. 

Another 120 new COVID-19 cases were announced on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Malaysia to 673, the highest in Southeast Asia so far. 

Of these new cases, 95 were linked to the tabligh (religious) gathering at the said mosque. 

The event, attended by 16,000 people, has also led to infections in Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri had announced on Monday that all religious activities and Friday prayers at mosques and surau nationwide will be suspended for 10 days from Mar 17 to Mar 26.

READ: Malaysia delays pre-APEC meetings, says committed to hold summit

On Monday night, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a restricted movement order, which bars citizens from going overseas and foreigners from entering the country for about two weeks starting Wednesday to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the country. 

As part of the order, public gatherings and movements in the whole country, including religious events, sports meets, social and cultural activities will be prohibited. 

To enforce this, he outlined that all places of worship and business premises must be closed, except for supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities. 

Commenting on this, Dr Adham urged all Malaysians to comply with the restricted movement order or risk prosecution, which takes into effect from Wednesday. 

“First-time offenders may be jailed for up to two years or fined, or both. For those who are caught committing the offence for the second time, they may be jailed for up to five years or fined, or both,” he said. 

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