He said it was important for Sabah to manage the situation properly as it had limited resources in terms of hospitals and specialists to handle any major emergencies that might stem from the viral outbreak in China.
“We are different from Peninsular Malaysia – they have many hospitals and specialists.
“Here, we must not only ensure we can handle it but also manage it,” he said after attending Penampang’s Chinese New Year celebrations on Wednesday night.
Shafie was responding to calls by Chinese tourists asking the government to extend the seven-day extension visa as they were having difficulty flying or were choosing to stay until the threat of the virus eased in China.
“Chinese tourists in Sabah can stay as long as their visas are valid and if they can’t find flights, we can extend their visas for seven days but not more than that,” he said.
Shafie was asked if Sabah would consider extending the visas for a month as was being done by Indonesia for stranded tourists mainly in Bali.
“It is not that we do not recognise their requests. they should be mindful that even their government has taken drastic and strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus and we have allowed for a week’s extension,” he added.
He said there were sufficient flights for Chinese tourists to return home via Kuala Lumpur and other current commercial flights still flying from Kota Kinabalu to some cities in China.
Shafie also said that Chinese students in Sabah would be monitored and the necessary medical assistance would be given to those needing help.
Sabah has barred flights from 15 Chinese cities from Jan 30 that triggered cancellations of commercial and chartered flights due to the drop in passenger loads.
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