This was in line with Chinese equities, which plunged as the country's markets reopened following the Lunar New Year break as investors priced in the cost of the health crisis to the economy.
Having fallen as much as 9.1% in the first few minutes of trading, the Shanghai Composite Index approached midday about 8% under water.
On the home market, the FBM KLCI ended the morning session 4.65 points lower at 1,526.41. Trading volume was 2.52 billion shares valued at RM1.4bil.
Investors took money out of a broad breadth of stocks on Bursa Malaysia with 834 decliners to only 150 gainers and 248 counters unchanged.
Plantation stock were among the top declining counters withIOI dropping seven sen to RM4.46, Sime Darby Plantation slipping eight sen to RM4.99 and KL Kepong falling 22 sen to RM22.58
The fall in plantation counters came amid a steep fall in crude palm oil prices over the previous week.
Crude oil has also been on the backfoot owing to the impact of the coronavirus on global demand. On Monday, WTI dropped 31 cents to US$51.43 a barrel while Brent crude plunged 42 cents to US$56.20 a barrel.
Glove makers are also seeing profit taking despite the boost to demand stemming from increased safety measures against the virus. Top Glove shed nine sen to RM5.76 and Hartalega dropped eight sen to RM5.84.
In forex markets, the ringgit continued its slide against the greenback, viewed as a safe haven currency, and as it tracked the Chinese yuan lower.
The local currency fell 0.4% against the US dollar to 4.1120, 0.15% against the pound sterling to 5.4143 and 0.2% against the Singapore dollar to 3.0052.
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