KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian opposition lawmakers led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad submitted a petition to the country’s king on Tuesday seeking an end to a coronavirus emergency so Parliament can resume.
The king approved Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s plan for an emergency in early January to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but critics said it was a political ruse to help the embattled leader stay in power amid challenges to his leadership.
The emergency involves no curfew or military powers but Parliament is suspended until Aug. 1. Muhyiddin’s government remains in control and has extraordinary powers to introduce laws without parliamentary approval.
Mahathir, 95, accused Muhyiddin of using the king’s name as a shield against critics, making many Malays angry with the monarch instead. He told reporters outside the palace gate that he hopes the king will heed the people’s voices. More than 39,000 Malaysians have signed an online petition since March for the king to end the emergency.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Learning to breathe: German clinic helps COVID-19 long haulers
— Asian Americans wrestle with returning to classrooms amid rising harassment
— Hungary’s poor Romachildren struggle with digital education
— Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PRAGUE — The coronavirus pandemic has badly affected beer consumption in the Czech Republic.
In the beer-loving nation, average consumption per person dropped by 7 liters (14.8 pints) to 135 liters (285 pints) last year.
It’s the lowest amount since the 1960s, according to the Czech union of brewers.
Frantisek Samal, the head of the union, said he has never experienced such a crisis. Up to 500 pubs have had to close permanently and hundreds more are expected to follow suit this year.
Bars and restaurants were closed for many months after the pandemic hit the country in March last year. A ban on drinking alcohol in public and the cancellation of sports, cultural and other events also contributed to the drop.
Overall beer production in the country was down by 6.9% at 20.1 million hectoliters (531 million gallons). Beer exports were down by 381,000 hectoliters to about 5 million hectoliters, the first decline after nine years of growth.
The Czech Republic has been one of the hardest-hit European countries. The nation of 10.7 million has has reported over 1.6 million COVID-19 cases, including 28,640 deaths.
MEXICO CITY — For the first time in a year, Mexican school children have returned to classrooms — at least in the southern state of Campeche.
The Gulf coast state has been the state least affected by the pandemic in Mexico, and it was the first to get its teachers vaccinated.
So Campeche is the first, and so far the only, of Mexico’s 32 states to reopen its classrooms.
While it may have been good to get back to school Monday, the scene in Campeche was different from before: Grade-school children were allowed back in small groups to maintain social distancing, and they wore face masks and plastic face shields.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The Pacific nation of Fiji has closed schools and canceled sporting events as it deals with its first coronavirus infections outside quarantine cases in more than a year.
A soldier and a room cleaner at a quarantine facility have both tested positive, but there hasn’t been any indication so far the virus is spreading more widely in the community.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama says Fiji is again facing a “grave and present danger.” The government has ordered all gyms, bars and theaters within two containment zones closed and large gatherings across the nation canceled for at least two weeks.
Home to a little under 1 million people, Fiji has recorded just two COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began, but experts fear its health system would be ill-equipped to deal with a major outbreak.