SEREMBAN: Except for those from the Hubei province, there is no ban on flights from other parts of China to Malaysia, except in Sabah, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke (pic).
In Putrajaya, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian has expressed regret over Sabah state cabinet’s decision to ban all scheduled and chartered flights from China until the situation on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) improves.
The government has imposed a temporary ban on Chinese citizens from Wuhan – the epicentre of the epidemic and provincial capital of Hubei – and its surrounding cities but has yet to decide on banning all flights from China.
Loke said yesterday that although the World Health Organisation (WHO) had on late Thursday declared the outbreak a global emergency, the government could not ban all flights as this could lead to other implications.
“The Health Ministry has taken preventive measures and will continue to monitor the situation including airport arrivals from other parts of China for the time being, ” he told reporters when met at the Land Office here.
As of yesterday, 213 deaths related to the 2019-nCov have been reported in China. The epidemic has reached at least 18 countries.
WHO said it is concerned about the virus spreading to countries that do not have the resources to deal with the outbreak.
Loke said banning all flights from China could lead to other implications as there are many Chinese nationals still stuck in Malaysia.
“Similarly, we have many Malaysians who are in China and may want to come home.
“So, for now, we will monitor developments in China and the Cabinet will make a decision at the appropriate time, ” he added.
Meanwhile, 13 Chinese nationals from Wuhan working on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project who went home for the Chinese New Year festival have been instructed not to return to Malaysia yet.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak said this was in line with the government’s move to temporarily ban Chinese citizens from Wuhan and Hubei province from entering Malaysia.
“We actually came up with an emergency response plan on this before the Chinese New Year. Their absence will not in any way affect work on the ECRL here, ” he told reporters at the state Land Office.
In Putrajaya, Bai is hoping that Sabah and Sarawak will reconsider their bans.
“I am sad to hear about their decisions. I think they need to be given a second thought. Any decision made by any government on this matter has to be based on solid foundation.
“I hope that during this difficult time, the normal flow of people as well as trade and commercial activities will not be affected, ” Bai told a press conference at an event at the Primary Industries Ministry here.
The Sarawak government has banned Chinese students studying in the state from returning after their Lunar New Year holidays.
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