JOHOR BARU: Amid calls from some quarters to temporarily ban tourists from China from coming into the country to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus infection, the Johor government is taking proactive measures to guard against the threat.
The state Health Department recently conducted a meeting with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) and the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) to come up with guidelines for travel agency operators on how to handle tourists from China.
Johor tourism, women, family and community development committee chairman Liow Cai Tung said travel agencies were required to notify the health department if they spot tourists with flu symptoms.“This is to prevent any potential risk of infection of the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) spreading in the state or country.
“Tourists from China are required to give information about their health condition and to notify their agent immediately if they feel any discomfort or show any symptoms, ” she said when met by reporters after visiting the Fo Guang Shan Buddist Centre at Taman Sutera.
Recently, an online petition was launched to urge the government to ban Chinese nationals from entering the country, with some 149,000 in support of the call.
However, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad rejected the call and said Malaysia has no plans to block travellers from China despite the outbreak of the coronavirus in that country.
He said there would be no ban but the authorities would be rigorously checking travellers, especially those from China, to ensure that they are not carrying the virus.
Liow said the Johor government was also concerned about Malaysians working in Singapore and travelling to and fro from the country.
“The majority of the tourists we have are not only from China but from Singapore as well. And Singapore had also recently recorded its first case of coronavirus.
“The state would like to remind all Johoreans to practice good hygiene when coming from or going to Singapore, use face masks and wash their hands regularly, ” she added.
Liow also said that a travel history check would also be conducted on everyone passing through the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) Sultan Iskandar Building (BSI) and Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB).
“Those who have been to China previously will be given a self-health assessment card that contains all the information that they need when they show any symptoms, ” she added.
The Health Ministry has so far confirmed four cases of the Wuhan coronavirus infection in the country.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the latest case involved a 40-year-old man from Wuhan, China, who came to Johor Baru on Jan 22 via a bus from Singapore, together with 17 other tourists from China.
“The man started exhibiting signs of a fever on Jan 23 and the next day he sought treatment at a private hospital there, ” he said in a statement.
He said the man was referred to Hospital Sultanah Aminah’s Infectious Disease Medical Team in Johor Baru.
Did you find this article insightful?