PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian government will impose an entry ban on citizens from countries with more than 150,000 COVID-19 cases starting from Sep 7, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Thursday (Sep 3).
Countries on the list include the United States, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Bangladesh, he said.
“We will add more countries deemed high-risk, which have more than 150,000 positive cases, into the list. Their citizens will be barred (from entering Malaysia)," the minister told reporters.
“However, for emergency cases or involving bilateral relations, such as if a person needs to come for a meeting between countries, we will allow entry. But it requires permission from the immigration department."
He added that the health ministry would announce more details on countries which have recorded more than 150,000 COVID-19 cases at a later date.
On Tuesday, Malaysia announced that long-term pass holders who are citizens of India, Indonesia and the Philippines will be barred from entering the country effective Sep 7.
The decision was made after considering the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases within the three countries, said Mr Ismail Sabri.
“The barring would be applicable to permanent residents, holders of Malaysia My Second Home passes, expatriates of all categories, those with resident passes, spouse visas and students who are citizens of the respective countries," he said.
“This decision was made as per the advice of the ministry of health, which felt that the barring would be an effective method in curbing the community spread of the COVID-19 virus resulting from import cases."
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However, the government will allow Malaysians from high-risk countries to return, he added. They will be subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine as stipulated in the country's standard operating procedures.
The "Embracing New Norms" campaign launched earlier this year to ensure people continue to comply with procedures set out to curb the spread of COVID-19 will continue until Dec 31, added Mr Ismail Sabri.
Various campaigns will be carried out in shopping malls and on social media and print media to make sure people comply with the standard operating procedures.
"As for now, the SOP (standard operating procedure) compliance is high as Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988) is in force and the police can carry out the enforcement," he said.
“We want the people to keep practising self-control such as wearing a face mask, frequently washing their hands and maintaining physical distance."
Malaysia reported 14 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 9,374.
Four were imported cases while the remaining 10 were local transmissions, according to health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.