Malaysia announces restrictions amid China’s COVID-19 surge; all visitors to undergo temperature checks
KUALA LUMPUR: Amid a concern over the rise of COVID-19 cases in China, all visitors entering Malaysia will have to undergo temperature screening checks for fever.
Those who are found to have fever, are symptomatic or have self-declared their symptoms will then be sent to a quarantine centre or to the health authorities for further checks.
In a statement on Friday (Dec 30), the country’s Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa also said that those who have been to China within the last 14 days of their arrival into the country will need to undergo the RTK-Ag test (rapid antigen test).
These samples will then be sent for genome testing if they are found to be positive for Covid-19, Dr Zaliha said.
At the same time, those who have been in close contact with people who have travelled to China in the last 14 days, or exhibit influenza-like illnesses or severe acute respiratory infection will also need to be tested for COVID-19.
The Member of Parliament for Sekijang said these measures were part of Malaysia’s increased surveillance for COVID-19 in order to ensure that steps can be taken to check the spread of the disease in the country and monitor for possible new variants.
Separately, Dr Zaliha said that the health ministry would also run polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on sewage samples from aircrafts coming from China.
CNA has sent in queries to Malaysia’s health ministry to ask whether the temperature checks also apply to those arriving at the land checkpoints, and when this will be implemented.
On Thursday, Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook was quoted as saying by Bernama that Malaysia would see a surge in flight demand following the reopening of China’s borders.
The Malaysia Tourism Agency Association (MATA), however, has urged the government to temporarily suspend the entry of tourists from China until the situation there improves.
MATA president Mohd Khalid Harun was quoted as saying by Bernama that the recent significant surge in COVID-19 cases in China has increased the potential for new COVID-19 variants to emerge, thus causing concern to Malaysians, especially those in the tourism sector.
Mr Khalid also said that many foreign countries have tightened the entry of tourists or businessmen from China for the time being to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in their countries.
Earlier on Tuesday, the country’s health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the health ministry will continue to step up its preparedness for a possible hike in the number of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths following an increase in the number of infections in China.
He was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail that the health ministry is also urging all Malaysians who are eligible to take their COVID-19 booster dose to do so as this will give members of the public “optimal protection” against the disease.
Malaysia had previously scrapped mandatory testing on all incoming vaccinated travellers on May 1. Earlier in September, mask-wearing became optional in most indoor places in the country.