Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has reminded those intending to visit Langkawi under the tourism bubble pilot project to continue adhering to the standard operating procedure (SOP) against Covid-19.
In finding a balance between public health and economic survival, he urged everyone to play their role to ensure no surge in infections will occur on the island.
“Your cooperation is very much needed,” said Noor Hisham on Facebook.
This came after Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri announced last week that domestic tourists who fulfil certain SOP criteria will be allowed to visit Langkawi beginning Sept 16.
This included visitors from states still in Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan.
Following this, Noor Hisham said the Kedah Health Department is increasing the capacity and preparedness of the Sultanah Maliha Hospital (HSM) in Langkawi.
This is given the possibility of a spike in Covid-19 cases on the island which may require hospital and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions.
HSM is a hybrid hospital providing treatment for Covid-19 patients with 79 beds and another 142 beds for other patients.
Noor Hisham said with the setting up of the Langkawi Covid-19 Low-risk Treatment and Quarantine Centre at the Langkawi International Shooting Range Malaysia on Aug 4, 60 additional beds have been provided to treat Category 1, 2, and 3 low-risk patients.
“As for the ICU, eight additional beds were repurposed, putting the total at 13 beds and of that number, nine are reserved for Covid-19 patients,” he added.
In addition, other departments at HSM, including Emergency and Trauma, Pathology, Medical Transfusion, Paediatric, Forensic, and the Hemodialysis Unit are all prepared should there be an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Earlier today, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin clarified the guidelines for those looking to partake in Langkawi’s travel bubble and whether there was a need to obtain letters from the police in order to travel.
“For the Langkawi travel bubble tourism pilot programme: only tourists who intend to use land transport are required to obtain a letter from the police for the purpose of interstate travel and roadblocks.
"Tourists who are flying in do not need a police letter,” he said on Twitter.
In response to Khairy’s tweet, Noor Hisham expressed hope that the health minister’s explanation will make things clearer for those interested in the pilot programme.
“It is hoped that this explanation will dispel the confusion about the need for a police permit to go to Langkawi island. Flights to Langkawi do not require a police permit,” the health DG added on Twitter.