No medical tourists just yet

  • Metro News
  • Monday, 29 Jun 2020

Jagdeep (second right) checking on Covid-19 SOP compliance at The Zen construction site in Bayan Lepas.

MEDICAL tourists are not landing in Penang yet, said state exco member Jagdeep Singh Deo.

“There are international flights landing at Penang International Airport, but they only bring back returning Malaysians.

“That has been the standard operating procedure and it still is, ” he said.

He said although the Federal Government had announced that foreigners may come here for private healthcare, there are no arrivals pending more detailed standard operating procedures (SOP).

“We hope this will not happen yet at least until the pandemic status in the region has calmed down.

“Penang has been in the Covid-19 green zone since May 24. But look at the situation in other countries, many of them are nowhere near recovery.

“We have to care for Malaysians first before letting foreigners come here for medical treatment, ” he said.

Last year, Malaysia played host to over 1.3 million healthcare travellers, achieving more than RM1.7bil in hospital receipts.

Penang’s private hospitals bagged about half of that.

Almost 700,000 of those healthcare travellers were Indonesians.

On Friday, Indonesia’s Health Ministry reported 1,240 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 51,427 with 2,683 deaths.

The Covid-19 fatality rate there is 5.2%, compared with Malaysia’s 1.4%.

Jagdeep was asked if the state exco had discussed prospects of reviving medical tourism in Penang while he was visiting an affordable housing construction site in Penang World City, Bayan Mutiara.

The project called The Zen by Asia Green Group is fully sold and construction has recently resumed after all the workers were tested negative for Covid-19.

The mixed development includes 1,200 affordable condominium units of 850sq ft each, priced at RM300,000.

Jagdeep, who was satisfied with the developer’s SOP compliance, said this project was part of a total of 105,719 affordable homes at various stages of completion in Penang now.

“Despite the pandemic, we are on track to see our target of 180,000 affordable homes completed by 2030.

“The prices range from RM42,000 to RM300,000.

“Because of the pandemic, affordable housing development are the only way forward.

“If developers build million-ringgit homes, they will have trouble finding buyers because the world market has lost its buying power, ” he said.

Penang Island City Council secretary Datuk Addnan Mohd Razali, who was present, said 64 construction sites on the island had been approved to resume work and the city council has 19 building inspectors out daily to check on SOP compliance at these sites.

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