Covid-19: No need for blanket ban on Chinese visitors, says DPM

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will not ban visitors from China for now as there is no necessity to do so, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (pic).

The Deputy Prime Minister said instead, the government will be imposing more stringent checks on people arriving from China, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The matter was discussed, but we found that there is no necessity for it (a ban on China visitors) now.

“We will however strengthen our checks on people arriving from China, ” she said after chairing a high-level committee meeting on Covid-19 here Friday (Feb 21).

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also chairman of the National Anti-Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), said those arriving from China will also be given swab tests, on top of the thermal screening which is done at all entry points.

“Individuals who are found to be Covid-19 positive will be admitted to hospitals. Those who are negative will be allowed to go home, but they must undergo the ‘Home Surveillance’ programme that is set according to Health Ministry’s guidelines, ” she said.

She added that China nationals who are studying in Malaysia will have to undergo health screening arranged by their universities.

This however does not apply to students who have already been in Malaysia for more than 14 days, taking into consideration the 14-day incubation period for Covid-19.

“The Education Malaysia division (BEM) in the Higher Learning Department will be in charge of implementing this health screening, according to the standard operating procedures agreed upon by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry, ” said Dr Wan Azizah.

Recently, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the Cabinet had discussed whether Malaysia would issue a blanket ban on visitors from China in light of the Covid-19 situation.

He said the decision lies with Dr Wan Azizah as Nadma chairman.

So far, Malaysia has only imposed travel restrictions on China nationals who are from the Hubei province and neighbouring provinces Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

Wuhan city, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak, is in the Hubei province.

Flights to and from Wuhan have also been temporarily halted.

Meanwhile, Dr Wan Azizah said screenings at the Johor-Singapore border entry and exit points will also be strengthened.

“The Health Ministry will be discussing the screening and surveillance methods at the entry and exit points in Johor with the Singapore government, through the Bilateral Joint-Working Group.

“They will have a meeting on Feb 25, ” she said.

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