Govt will bring those in Spain and S. Korea home if need arises

PUTRAJAYA: Repatriation of Malaysians in Spain and South Korea due to the Covid-19 pandemic will be carried out should the need arise, says the Foreign Ministry.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar (pic) said the government, which is in the midst of bringing Malaysians home from Iran and Italy, would be advised on the matter by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and other authorities.

“The relevant authorities are monitoring the global Covid-19 development closely.

“Should the need arise (to bring Malaysians home from Spain and South Korea), the government will consider this possibility, ” he told reporters here yesterday.

Spain is now Europe’s second most affected country after Italy, with some 2,000 new Covid-19 cases reported on Sunday while infections in South Korea have surpassed 8,000 over the weekend. Italy has almost 25,000 cases with some 1,800 deaths.

Kamaruddin said Malaysians in Iran and Italy – two countries that were badly affected by the outbreak – were expected to be repatriated this week, adding that Malaysian authorities were discussing arrangements with Teheran and Rome.

“We hope to be able to clear the matter and bring home Malaysians – possibly by this week, ” he said, adding that the returnees included embassy staff and their dependents.

All 48 Malaysians registered with the embassy in Teheran will be brought home while out of the 323 Malaysians in Italy, only 79 have agreed to be repatriated.

“Not all who are registered with our mission in Italy want to return. Some of them are permanent residents and want to remain there, ” he said, adding however that there was still about 48 hours for them to change their minds.

This will be the third repatriation exercise carried out by the government after two such exercises to bring home Malaysians and their dependents from Wuhan, China, on Feb 3 and 25.

Kamaruddin advised Malaysians abroad to register with the embassy so that assistance could be extended to them in such cases.

“In line with the Health Ministry’s advice, I would like to call on the public to delay their travel to countries affected by Covid-19, including Europe, ” he said.

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