The outbreak started in January, with the first case being reported on January 25, but the number of new cases remained low for a while, and was mostly restricted to travelers. Things remained relatively quiet for about a month.
Things changed unfortunately, due to a religious procession which favored the transmission of the disease. the largest cluster was linked to a Tablighi Jamaat religious gathering held in Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur in late February and early March, leading to massive spikes in local cases and exportation of cases to neighboring countries. Within 3 weeks, the virus had spread to every state and federal territory in the country.
In early March, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) expressed great concern and measures were announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. It was on March 16 that a nationwide “Movement Control Order” (MCO) was declared, with the aim of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing. This measure was initially announced to last between 18 March and 31 March.
The Philippines has managed to flatten the curve as of mid-April, but fears of a virus resurgence still remain. There are 57 hospitals that provide screening services for coronavirus, and a further total of 409 sites across the country have been gazetted by the federal government.
In mid-March, the Malaysian Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals (MVP) reportedly has pleaded for co-operation and support from the federal government.
A fiscal stimulus package of RM 6 billion (0.4 percent of GDP) was approved on February 27, 2020, including increased health spending. A second stimulus package of RM 25 bn (1.7 percent of GDP) was released on March 27, 2020, including additional health spending; cash transfers to low income households; wage subsidies to help employers retain workers; and infrastructure spending in East Malaysia. Malaysia was also hit economically by declining oil prices.