KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has barred cruise ships from entering its ports with immediate effect until the overall COVID-19 situation has improved and the virus is contained.
The country's Director-General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Sunday (Mar 8) that the move is made in view of the recent resurgence of novel coronavirus cases in Malaysia and around the world.
It is among various measures being taken by authorities to contain local transmission and safeguard public health.
Malaysia confirmed 99 cases of COVID-19 infection as of Sunday noon.
Entry and transit of cruise ships, passengers and crew members require the use of considerable medical resources at ports for screening and treatment purposes, he wrote in a Facebook post.
"During this difficult period, it is important that more medical resources are concentrated at hospitals to attend to medical emergencies and undertake preventive measures.
"As such the Ministry of Health, in consultation with other government ministries and agencies, has taken the decision not to permit the entry of cruise ships to Malaysian ports," he wrote.
Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry acknowledged that the cruise industry is an important component of Malaysia’s tourism sector and has contributed significantly to the Malaysian economy, but was hopeful that this is a temporary measure and was confident that the concerted efforts of all parties will assist in resolving the issue at hand soon as possible.