KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is temporarily suspending all scheduled and chartered flights from China with immediate effect, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christine Liew.
She said the decision was made during Wednesday's (Jan 29) state cabinet meeting in the interest of the people's welfare.
"This is only a temporary suspension and business operations are expected to resume once the situation returns to normal," she said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 30).
Liew said although the suspension would have repercussions on Sabah's tourism industry, the government was placing the health and welfare of Sabahans first.
"We want to avoid the risk of exposing our people to any possible carriers of the 2019-nCoV (coronavirus) infection," she said adding this travel ban was a very difficult decision to make.
"This might not be well-received by tourism players but we cannot jeopardise the well-being of the people, given the uncertainty of how the coronavirus epidemic is developing," said Liew, who is also the state Tourism, Culture and Environment minister.
Liew said the state secretary's office would inform all airlines operating China-KK routes of the decision.
"This means that all flights from China will be halted, and there will be no entry for all travellers from the various Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu during the suspension period," she said.
She also noted that the Chinese government had already banned its citizens in Wuhan, Xi'an, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou from travelling abroad.
Meanwhile, Liew assured the public that the state government was closely monitoring the situation.
"The government is constantly being updated by the State Health Department," she said.
She said while there are no identified cases yet in Sabah, everyone had to be alert and practise good personal hygiene habits and keep themselves abreast of correct information from reliable sources.
"Please refrain from spreading fake or unverified news," Liew advised.
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