Putrajaya temporarily bars entry for Wuhan, Hubei residents amid coronavirus scare

Yiswaree Palansamy

A Malaysian health quarantine officer waits for passengers at a thermal screening point at the international arrival terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang January 21, 2020. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — The government has temporarily banned residents from the Hubei province and its capital city of Wuhan from entering Malaysia by suspending all available visa programmes facilitating their entry here.

In a statement today, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced the decision which takes effect immediately, taking note of the recent developments in China on the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak which has affected thousands.

“Taking note of the latest information, the government of Malaysia has decided to temporarily suspend all immigration facilities, namely eNTRY (visa-free entry), visa on arrival, e-visa and manual visa to Chinese nationals from the city of Wuhan, especially the Hubei province, and this takes effect immediately.

“This immigration facility will be restored once the situation returns to normal,” the PMO said.

It added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be coordinating said policy with its Chinese counterpart.

The PMO also warned the public against spreading unverified information on the situation.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the situation of the coronavirus cases in the country is not at a critical point, to stop Chinese tourists from entering the country.

Dr Mahathir lamented that it is simply vexatious to stop people from travelling and expressed hope that there will soon be a system to “isolate very quickly, and also work on producing a vaccine for the treatment.”

He said it is also not possible to quarantine travellers from China or other nations affected by the virus upon arrival to Malaysia, regardless of whether they display any symptoms or otherwise, owing to the sheer volume of people.

Number of positive Wuhan coronavirus cases in Malaysia as of yesterday remains at four.

There are five pending cases of the virus awaiting lab results, all involving Chinese nationals. Two are in Langkawi, two in Kuala Lumpur, and the latest in Bintulu.

Cumulative cases for persons suspected to be infected by the coronavirus is 38, with one confirmed positive, 32 negative, and five awaiting lab results.

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