KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians who are in Singapore but want to return home during the circuit breaker measures period should consider remaining in Singapore for another two weeks, said Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday (Apr 7), Dr Noor Hisham said the Malaysian government is still discussing with the Singapore government on the way forward for these workers.
"If possible, we hope that Malaysians who are in Singapore remain there for another two weeks. We are discussing with our Singapore counterparts to see if their employers will be able to accommodate them for two more weeks," said Dr Noor Hisham.
He added that those who want to return to Malaysia will need to be screened at the checkpoints. Moreover, for those with COVID-19 symptoms, authorities at the checkpoints will take the necessary action, Dr Noor Hisham added.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a set of circuit breaker measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Under the measures, schools and most workplaces in the country will be closed until May 4.
Over the weekend, Malaysian media reported Johor Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad as saying that the southern state would not be able to handle the return of thousands of Malaysians at once.
“Managing the COVID-19 situation in Johor is unique as the state has multiple entry points – the Causeway and Second Link as well as four international ferry terminals.
“There are at least 45,000 Malaysians currently working in Singapore wanting to return following the island republic’s decision to impose stricter measures to contain COVID,” he reportedly said in an interview with RTM radio station Johor FM.
Malaysian Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday that Malaysians working in Singapore can only return if they have been certified free of the COVID-19 infection by Singaporean health authorities.
He said that this is the initial agreement between the Malaysian and Singapore governments that those returning must be screened for COVID-19.
“Our instruction is that they can’t return unless they get approval that they are free from COVID-19 from the Singapore government,” he said at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“After going through the screening process they have to get a letter from the Singapore authorities that they tested negative for COVID-19. Only then they are allowed to return. This is our agreement,” he claimed.
In response to queries from CNA, Singapore's Ministry of Health said on Monday that the Singapore Government does not require foreigners exiting the country to be swabbed for COVID-19 on non-clinical grounds.
"COVID-19 testing is performed, when clinically indicated, for patients and close contacts of patients," said the ministry.