Visa restrictions for SARS-hit countries


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 10 Apr 2003

KUALA LUMPUR: In new measures to curb the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Government has frozen visa issuance on visitors from affected countries apart from re-introducing visa conditions for some of these countries. 

The conditions however, do not cover those coming here on official visits and others who have businesses or investments here. They, however, will need certificates of health from clinics or hospitals in their countries. 

Immigration Director-General Datuk Jamal Kamdi, who confirmed the move, said for the purpose of implementing the Cabinet’s latest directive, visa requirements would be imposed on travellers from all affected countries, including countries which previously did not require such documents, like Vietnam and Canada. 

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik said he had informed the Cabinet that all the steps recommended by the World Health Organisation to check SARS at all entry points had been implemented by his ministry. 

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the matter was extensively discussed at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. 

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng warned the public of unscrupulous parties who were exploiting the SARS situation by making false claims about traditional or Western medication that could purportedly cure the deadly virus. 

He said those caught can be fined up to RM20,000 and jailed up to three years while repeat offenders can be fined up to RM50,000 and jailed up to five years. 

Companies could be fined up to RM50,000 or RM100,000 for repeat offences, he said before his ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting. 

Chua said the Cabinet had decided that there was no need to close schools or kindergartens in light of the situation, adding that guidelines would be drawn up soon for the usage of respiratory masks. 

He said the Housing and Local Government Ministry would be involved in disseminating information about SARS through their 145 local authorities. 

Health deputy-director general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said there were five new suspected cases. The new cases were in Kedah (3) and one each in Terengganu and Perak. 

Fifteen people had been discharged, while 22 people were still in isolation in hospitals nationwide and were reported to be in stable condition and showing signs of recovery. 

Dr Ismail said the family of a probable case in Penang had been placed under home quarantine, while five other families had cleared their respective quarantine periods. 

Related Stories:Dept to brief factory workers 

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