Public anger has built up against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's unelected government, which took power in March 2020, as infections in Malaysia grew nearly eight-fold to more than 1 million despite a virus emergency in January and a lockdown since June 1.
Total deaths in Malaysia have soared to nearly 9,000. Daily cases surpassed 10,000 on July 13 for the first time and set a record Wednesday of nearly 17,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins count.
Saturday's rally added to pressure on Muhyiddin after his government was reprimanded by Malaysia's king for misleading Parliament over the status of emergency measures.
Wearing masks and holding black flags and signs, the protesters chanted "Muhyiddin resign."
Some were seen carrying mock corpses wrapped in white cloth to depict growing virus death toll.
After police blocked them from marching to the nearby Independence Square, they sat on the street a meter apart in protest with a large banner laid on the street that read "The government failed."
The youths cheered in agreement as a protest leader shouted their three demands: for Muhyiddin to step down, for parliament to resume regular sessions immediately and for automatic loan moratorium to help those hit by the pandemic.