Asia Minute: Malaysia Loosening Restrictions, Increasing Vaccines

Mar 3, 2021

In states from Texas to Michigan, government officials are loosening some restrictions linked to the pandemic. That’s also the case in a Southeast Asian nation where the increasing use of vaccines around the world is having an unusual impact.

COVID-19 vaccinations are slowly increasing in Malaysia, while the number of new cases is dropping sharply.

One result: the government has announced it will be easing some of its public health and travel restrictions starting on Friday. Tuesday saw the lowest new case count across the country this year, and the number of active cases is about half the level of its peak just three weeks ago.

Today marks a week since the introduction of vaccinations in Malaysia. First in line for shots are health care workers, teachers, fire fighters and elected lawmakers.

The government’s goal is to vaccinate 80% of the population within a year.

When it comes to COVID-19, Malaysia is the third most affected country in Southeast Asia — trailing only Indonesia and the Philippines in its overall health impact.

The business cost has also been high with the economy suffering its steepest drop since the Asian financial crisis more than twenty years ago.

One recent local impact in the global rise in vaccinations — a decline in demand for one of Malaysia’s more specialized exports: rubber gloves. The world’s biggest maker of rubber gloves is a Malaysian company — Top Glove — whose shares are down nearly 20% from the start of this year.