‘Don’t overreact’ to travellers from China, says Malaysian tourism minister amid COVID-19 concerns
Malaysian health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa says that the COVID-19 situation is still under control and there is no need to shut international borders for now.
KUALA LUMPUR: Amid concerns over the COVID-19 situation in China, Malaysian tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing has cautioned the public not to overreact to travellers arriving from China.
It would also be unfair to implement special measures on travellers from China upon their arrival at Malaysia’s international entry points, added Mr Tiong.
“Some quarters said we should not allow tourists from China into Malaysia. I want to request that people don’t overreact. We cannot implement special control on China’s tourists, that’s not fair,” Mr Tiong was quoted as saying by Malay Mail on Thursday (Jan 12).
While stressing that the government will ensure that people’s health is a priority, Mr Tiong added that there have been no COVID-19 cases reported from tourists, including those from China.
Separately, speaking to reporters on Thursday, Malaysian health minister Zaliha Mustafa said that the COVID-19 situation is still under control and so far, there is no need for the government to close the borders.
“The COVID-19 situation is under control and the people’s awareness is still good, at a high level. As such the situation does not warrant us to close the borders,” said Dr Zaliha, according to Bernama.
She said there were no infections or symptoms detected at the border entry points even though Malaysia had received about 7,000 tourists from China since Jan 8.
Dr Zaliha, however, stressed that the government is taking precautionary measures by implementing certain approaches at the nation’s checkpoints to curb infection.
On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Immigration Department said that it will operate special lanes for travellers from China at its international entry points.
Deputy director-general of public health Dr Norhayati Rusli was quoted as saying by The Star that travellers who are suspected to be COVID-19 positive will be referred to health ministry officials who are stationed onsite.
It was previously reported that all travellers entering Malaysia will need to undergo temperature screening checks. Those who are found to have a fever, are symptomatic or have self-declared their symptoms will be sent to a quarantine centre or to the health authorities for further checks.
On Sunday, Free Malaysia Today reported Mr Tiong as saying that his ministry will station officers who are fluent in Mandarin at all international airports in Malaysia to help Chinese tourists who are not able to speak in English.
Mr Tiong had earlier suggested that special lanes be set up at these international airports to help speed up the arrival process for travellers from China.
Last week, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that the government’s decision to tighten border controls amid concerns over a spike in COVID-19 cases is not meant to discriminate against any one country.
In December, Dr Zaliha said travellers who had been to China within the last 14 days of their arrival into the country will need to undergo the rapid antigen test.
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.