Malaysia bans mass gatherings, shuts most businesses

Malaysia bans mass gatherings, shuts most businesses

A man wearing a face mask, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks through an unusually empty shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. AFP

Malaysia's leader has announced a drastic two-week lockdown in the country following a sharp spike in the number of virus cases.

Prime Minister Muhyiddini Yassin says religious institutions, schools, businesses and government offices will be shut until March 31.

He says travel in and out of the country will be banned.

Only essential services including supermarkets, banks, gas stations and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open.

Malaysia reported 315 new cases in the last two days to raise its total to 553. (AP) IND IND