Health DG: 'Green bubble' concept in cross-border travel to only be introduced if Covid-19 infections under control

  • Nation
  • Monday, 08 Jun 2020

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will only consider introducing the “green bubble” concept in easing the country's cross-border travel when it has Covid-19 infections under control during the recovery movement control order (MCO) period.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said for the concept to work, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the countries involved in the bubble must be considered.

“We are in the recovery stage now. So, let us open restrictions within the country first.

“When we open the social, economic, educational and other sectors and we can control the virus infections, then we will consider opening the country’s borders (and) allowing travel between countries with few cases, ” he said during the ministry’s daily Covid-19 briefing on Monday (June 8).

The "green bubble" or "green lane" concept involves easing travel restrictions between two or more countries where local Covid-19 infections and cases are low.

For example, Singapore is said to be in talks with several countries, such as Australia, China and South Korea, to establish such green lanes between them.

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to a question whether the country’s borders will open following a sharp decrease in local transmissions.

For the green bubble concept to work, he said Malaysia will look at the record, the number of green zones as well as the SOPs of a country.

“We have to see the joint SOPs between the two countries too.

“If we can agree on the SOPs, such as on Covid-19 screening and whether the test can be taken at the origin country (and) if the country has a good record and green zones, then maybe we will consider.

“There are many aspects to discuss and agree together before we can introduce the concept of the green bubble, ” he said, adding that the concept is still under discussion with a certain country.

He did not name the country.

Dr Noor Hisham also admitted that the government’s MySejahtera app to manage Covid-19 infections and hotspots tracing in the country crashed after it was flooded with some 700,000 registrations in a minute.

This was after the government’s announcement of RM50 in e-wallet credit with an additional RM50 worth of discounts and cashback as part of the short-term Economic Recovery Plan.

To receive this benefit, Malaysians need to download and register through the MySejahtera app.

“It is true. The app registration became congested as we received 700,000 registrations at once in a minute," he added.

The ministry, he said, is mulling the extension of the registration period to a week to allow more people to sign up.

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