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Malaysia's Ismail Sabri faces battle to curb COVID and spur growth

New prime minister tasked with rebuilding public trust in government

Malaysia's new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks during a National Day address at his office in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Aug. 30. (Prime Minister's Office via AP)

KUALA LUMPUR -- Ismail Sabri Yaakob won a tough battle to win Malaysia's premiership but now he faces an even stiffer test: to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases and restore public confidence in government.

The new prime minister took over last month with the economy stuttering and the healthcare system on the brink of collapse, with more than a quarter of a million active Covid-19 cases.

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