Coronavirus: Malaysia Converts Shipping Container to Morgue

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Malaysia’s health ministry converted a shipping container into a makeshift morgue on Sunday in the western state of Selangor as proper morgues have reached capacity in the state amid a recent surge in new Chinese coronavirus infections and deaths.

“The first container was set up at the Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor, and can fit up to 16 bodies,” local news outlet Coconuts Kuala Lumpur reported on May 16.

The Malaysian Health Ministry posted photos of the shipping container-turned-morgue to its official Facebook page on Sunday. The ministry did not indicate if it would need to use more shipping containers to temporarily store coronavirus victims before their burial or cremation.

“Other than mortuaries, the bodies of those who died of COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] are housed in COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] centralized body facilities until they are cremated or buried by health officials,” Coconuts Kuala Lumpur noted on Sunday.

Selangor’s Sungai Buloh Hospital is the state’s main Chinese coronavirus crisis center and was treating at least 520 coronavirus patients listed “in critical condition” as of Sunday, according to Malaysia’s health ministry. Malaysia’s daily Chinese coronavirus death toll hit a record high of 80 over the weekend from May 15-16. The country’s health officials recorded 36 deaths from the disease on Sunday, of which six were documented at Sungai Buloh Hospital. The country has documented about 479,000 cases of Chinese coronavirus in its territory since the pandemic began and nearly 2,000 deaths attributable to the disease as of Monday.

Malaysia’s federal government ordered the country to enter a partial nationwide lockdown on May 12 in an effort to contain a surging coronavirus caseload.

“The stricter Movement Control Order [MCO] lockdown will be imposed on all states, banning interstate and inter-district travels as well as dining out, and limiting the number of people in personal vehicles to a maximum of three people,” Coconuts Kuala Lumpur reported on May 11.

“Visiting other people’s homes and going to the cemetery will not be allowed during Eid celebrations,” the news outlet noted, referring to Eid al-Fitr, or the celebration of the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which lasted from April 13-May 13 this year.

Malaysia’s health ministry warned on Monday it may order Selangor to enter a total lockdown soon if the current partial lockdown orders fail to contain an unrelenting surge in new coronavirus cases state-wide.

“If the MCO is unable to contain the spread, then a full MCO would be something that can be considered,” Malaysian Health Minister Adham Baba said at a virtual press conference on May 17.

Selangor encircles Malaysia’s national capital, Kuala Lumpur, and is Malaysia’s most populous state. Selangor has accounted for at least one-quarter of Malaysia’s new daily cases of the Chinese coronavirus over the past two weeks, reporting more than one thousand new infections of the disease since May 5.

“Selangor is a key contributor to gross domestic product and employment as the country’s shipping hub and industrial capital,” Reuters noted on Monday. “It is also where the world’s top rubber glove manufacturers such as Top Glove have set up operations.”

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