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Malaysia to repatriate citizens from some parts of India as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Malaysia to repatriate citizens from some parts of India as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel check passports of Malaysian nationals wearing face masks before boarding a special flight for Malaysia at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport in Amritsar on Mar 30, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Narinder Nanu)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will repatriate its citizens from the northern and western regions of India amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities in India.

Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Thursday (May 6) said the repatriation mission will use a specially chartered aircraft from Malaysia.

“The aircraft will depart to New Delhi and Mumbai, India, as soon as all related arrangements including the approval from the Indian government for the special flight,” he said in a statement issued by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.

Hishammuddin said the decision to bring Malaysians back was made jointly by all the agencies involved, taking into account the observations and the analysis by the Malaysian missions in India.

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Those returning will include home-based staff members from various Malaysian agencies and their dependents. All of them will have to undergo COVID-19 testing before leaving India and also upon arrival in Malaysia.

“Apart from that, they are also required to undergo 14-day quarantine at the centres appointed by the government,” he said.

Hishammuddin added that other Malaysians in the northern and western regions of India who are keen on joining the repatriation flight should register with the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi and the Malaysian Consulate General in Mumbai by 5pm India time on Friday.

The southern and the eastern regions of India were not included in the repatriation mission as the situations there are under control, he said.

READ: India sees record COVID-19 deaths, new cases in 24 hours

READ: India's neighbours close borders over surge in COVID-19 cases

Hishammuddin also reminded all Malaysians in the area to keep in contact with the High Commission and the Consulate General for the latest information regarding the mission or for consular assistance.

During the initial stage of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Malaysia repatriated citizens from Wuhan in China, as well as Iran and Italy, said Hishammuddin. 

India saw record jumps in new COVID-19 cases and deaths on Thursday. Health ministry numbers showed 3,980 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the national total to 230,168 fatalities.

There were also 412,262 new cases, bringing India's caseload since the pandemic began to 21.1 million.

Many experts suspect that with low levels of testing and poor record-keeping for cause of death - and crematoriums overwhelmed in many places - the real numbers could be significantly higher.

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