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Malaysia surpasses India in Covid-19 infections per million people

  • Published at 02:42 pm May 28th, 2021
Malaysia Covid Coronavirus
Malaysian Muslim cleric Rafie Zainal and his team members assist family members of a coronavirus victim during a burial at a cemetery, in Gombak, Malaysia May 23, 2021 Reuters

Malaysia's ratio of infections to population, at more than 16,000 per million, is Southeast Asia's highest

The daily Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are on a steep rise, and have surpassed the figures of India on one critical measure.

With the world's second largest Covid-19 caseload, India is witnessing a devastating second wave while the country's daily case count has remained elevated at hundreds of thousands of infections — far exceeding Malaysia's few thousands a day.

But Malaysia's daily Covid infections per million people — on a seven-day rolling basis — have exceeded that of India since Sunday, reports CNBC citing data compiled by Our World in Data, a statistics site.

The latest statistics showed that Malaysia on Tuesday reported 205.1 cases per million people, compared with India's 150.4.

This is not the first time that the Southeast Asian country has overtaken India on this measure. 

Our World in Data showed that Malaysia's daily cases per million people were also higher than that of India between November 15 last year and March 27 this year.

Malaysia's population of roughly 32 million is much smaller than India's 1.4 billion.

Malaysia has been battling a surge in coronavirus cases since the last few months of 2020. The government has since tightened restrictions multiple times, but has stopped short of a full lockdown.

Also Read - India posts lowest daily rise in Covid-19 cases in over a month

Malaysia on Thursday reported 7,857 new coronavirus cases, the third straight day of record infections, taking the total caseload to 541,224, according to Worldometer, a reference website that provides counters and real-time statistics for diverse topics.

The country also reported a total of 2,491 Covid fatalities with 59 deaths in the past 24 hours.

While its overall caseload is far lower than some neighbours, its ratio of infections to population, at more than 16,000 per million, is Southeast Asia's highest, public data shows.

Volunteer undertakers struggle to cope 

Malaysian volunteers, who help to give virus victims a Muslim burial, say they are being stretched like never before, as the Southeast Asian country struggles to cope with its worst Covid-19 outbreak, reports Reuters.

Dressed in full protective gear, the Malaysian Funeral Management Squad is usually called in by hospitals to help families pay their last respects in a safe way.

Muhammad Rafieudin Zainal Rasid, a religious leader who heads the nationwide volunteer team, has become known as the "cleric undertaker." 

Also Read - Global Covid-19 deaths top 3.5 million

He said the volunteers were currently handling nearly 30 times more bodies than they did last year.

The volunteer team has grown in size to more than 2,000 members, but Muhammad Rafieudin said they are struggling to keep up.

"Before this, it was about one to three cases per month, but now we are managing up to two to three cases a day," he said, referring to just one team in the district of Kuala Lumpur where he is based.

The volunteers go from the hospital to the morgue to prepare the bodies for burial and also perform Muslim prayers at the cemetery, sometimes joined by family members who are also given full protective gear.

But as the number of deaths from the virus increases in the Muslim-majority country, it is sometimes hard to bury the body within 24 hours as is typical under Islam.

"If there are more than 10 cases today at the same cemetery, it might take two to three [days] to wrap everything up," he said.

"We are worried that the risk will be more dangerous for all of us who are exposed since we are handling the bodies," said Muhammad Rafieudin. 

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