Sabah temporarily suspends China flights

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is temporarily halting all scheduled and chartered flights from China with immediate effect although the state has yet to see any confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infections.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said this decision was made during Wednesday’s state Cabinet meeting after taking into account the concerns and the interests of the people.

“This is only a suspension and business operations are expected to resume once the situation returns to normal, ” she said in a statement yesterday.

“This means that all flights from China will be halted and there will be no entry for travellers from the various Chinese cities into Kota Kinabalu during the suspension period, ” she said, adding that the state secretariat’s office would inform all airlines operating the routes to and from China of the decision.

Liew said although the suspension would have repercussions on Sabah’s tourism, the government decided to put the health and welfare of Sabahans first.

“We want to avoid the risk of exposing our people to any possible carrier of 2019-nCoV (the novel coronavirus) infection, ” she said, calling the decision a “very difficult” one.

“This may 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.

China’s government, she added, had already banned its citizens in Wuhan, Xi’an, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou from travelling abroad.

Liew also assured the public that the state government is closely monitoring the situation, adding that it is being continuously updated by the state Health Department.

She said while there were no identified cases yet in Sabah, all had to be alert and practise good personal hygiene habits while keeping themselves abreast of correct information from reliable sources.

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