10-day quarantine for foreign students and workers


BY SUSAN TAM

KUALA LUMPUR: All foreign students and workers who arrive from today will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine order and their institutions of higher learning and employers will have to bear the expenses. 

The order would include daily medical checks and monitoring by Health Ministry officials.  

The National Committee on SARS which met yesterday recommended that students and workers obtain a health certificate, valid for seven days, from their country to show that they were free from SARS symptoms. 

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng, who chaired the meeting, said the quarantine would also apply to Malaysian students who returned from affected countries. He added, however, that students returning for a break would “only have to undergo health screening and not quarantine.” 

Sabahans and Sarawakians who returned home for Pesta Kaamatan and Gawai Dayak would not be subjected to quarantine but they have to undergo strict screening measures upon arrival. 

Chua said the students and workers would have to undergo screening at the point of departure and upon arrival. 

“For students on social visit passes already here for less than 10 days, they will have to be quarantined for the remaining days of the incubation period. 

“However, if they have been here for more than 10 days without showing any SARS symptoms, there is no need for quarantine,” he said. 

The World Health Organisation had listed China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Singapore, Mongolia and the Philippines as SARS-affected countries. 

Students from non-affected countries such as the Middle East would not be subjected to quarantine. 

Chua said the Education Ministry would have to inform all Malaysian consulate offices in the affected countries of the new requirements on foreign students. 

When asked about lodging arrangements for the students, Chua said the institutions would have to make their own arrangements. 

On foreign workers, he said similar conditions would be imposed on those arriving from affected countries, including obtaining a health certificate to confirm they were free from SARS symptoms. 

Students and workers who display SARS symptoms during the incubation period would be immediately referred to a designated hospital for medical treatment. 

The order would last until the WHO lifts the global alert on SARS. 

Asked why the quarantine order was imposed on foreign students and workers and not on Sabahans and Sarawakians, Chua said: “The students are going to be living and studying in packed classes and lecture halls and they can quickly infect the general population. 

“The order is carried out to protect the general student body, which includes Malaysians and students from non-affected countries. 

“For the workers, the measures are necessary to protect them and to isolate them from the workforce and general population.”  

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