KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia on Friday announced 39 new cases of COVID-19, marking the largest one day increase in the country and bringing the total number of cases to 197.
Four patients in need of respiratory assistance are being held in intensive care and given antiviral treatment, Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.
According to the Health Ministry, 40 participants of the large religious event held near the capital of Kuala Lumpur from late February to March have been tested positive.
In an evening television address, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the outbreak is expected to last for a relatively long period, urging fellow Malaysians to take personal hygiene measures and avoid large gatherings or public events.
"Therefore, the government has decided that all assemblies including international meetings, sports events, social and religious events be postponed or canceled till April 30. This decision will be reviewed if the COVID-19 situation improves," he said.
Malaysia is playing host for the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and associated meetings this year.
Muhyiddin also said the government will increase border controls, increase medial capacity for COVID-19, while launching stimulus packages to alleviate the impact on the economy and people's livelihood.