KOTA KINABALU: The state government of Sabah has suspended all scheduled and chartered flights from China with immediate effect, amid the Wuhan virus outbreak.
During a State Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (Jan 29), deputy chief minister Christina Liew said that the decision to suspend all flights from China indefinitely was made in the interest of the people's welfare.
The move is temporary, she said, adding that business operations are expected to resume once the situation returns to normal.
"Although this suspension will have repercussions on the state's tourism industry, the government is seriously concerned about the health and welfare of Sabahans, and we want to avoid the risk of exposing our people to any possible carrier of the novel coronavirus infection," she said.
"This travel ban is a very difficult decision and may not be well-received by our tourism players.
"However, the state has to make sure the well-being of the people is not jeopardised, given the uncertainty in the development of the novel coronavirus epidemic."
The state secretary's office will inform all the airlines operating the China-Kota Kinabalu routes of the government's decision.
"All flights from China will be halted, and there will be no entry for all travellers from the various Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu during the suspension period," said Ms Liew, who is also Sabah's minister of tourism, culture and environment.
She noted that the Chinese government had already stopped some of its citizens from travelling abroad.
The minister said the state government is closely monitoring the situation.
"The government is constantly being updated by the state health department. While there are no identified cases yet in Sabah, we all have to be alert and practice good personal hygiene," Ms Liew added.
"At the same time, we must keep ourselves abreast of correct information from reliable sources and please refrain from spreading fake or unverified news."
Malaysia confirmed its first cases of the coronavirus last weekend.
It has stepped up screening checks at all entry points and has temporarily suspended the granting of visas to all residents from China's Hubei province.