In February, when Heineken Malaysia Bhd announced its 2020 results, it looked like the worst was already over. However,after the pandemic flared up again and the government in Kuala Lumpur imposed a new 14 day-full lockdown starting on June 1, the brewer had to suspend again operations at its brewery in Sungei Way, Selangor.
Malaysia has long been a role model for successfully combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The success of the first Movement Control Order (commonly referred to as MCO) in Malaysia, which was announced very early last year on March 13th, 2020 and was able to protect the country from the worst consequences of the first COVID-19 wave, has long been forgotten. With the spread of the much more aggressive mutations of the coronavirus, such as the delta variant from India, and the all too casual handling of protective measures against the virus, the country has now become one of the countries with the strongest increase in COVID-19 diseases. Cases have risen by more than 60% in the past 14 days. On Tuesday, Malaysia's rolling seven-day average translated to 237.45 cases per million people and has even surpassed India with 111.06 cases per million.
Mass religious festivals appear to have contributed to the recent wave of cases. Malaysia is a country whose most professed religion is Islam. As of 2013, there were approximately 19.5 million Muslim adherents, or 61.3% of the population. Despite official orders against doing so, thousands Muslims traveled in May to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Now, daily case numbers are outpacing those of Indonesia and the Philippines, the countries with the region's worst outbreaks. Last Sunday, the country's health director-general, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, warned that demand for intensive care unit beds was already at 104% of the existing capacity. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's administration had no choice but to impose another lockdown, which has resulted in a complete freeze on all activity in the country.
"The mandatory closures and restrictions pursuant to the MCO 3.0 are expected to have a significant impact on the market in general as well as the Company’s operations and business," Heineken told Bursa Malaysia today.