By Agencies and published by CNA
Kuala Lumpur – Amid concerns over the Covid-19 situation in China, Malaysia’s Immigration Department will operate special lanes for travellers from the country at its international entry points.
This, the health ministry said, is part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus in Malaysia.
Its deputy director-general of public health Dr. Norhayati Rusli was quoted as saying by The Star on Tuesday (Jan. 10) that travellers who are suspected to be Covid-19 positive will then be referred to health ministry officials who are stationed onsite.
Dr. Norhayati said: “Thermal scanners will also be set up at our international entry points, with symptomatic travellers being referred to our officials for further checks.”
These travellers will then undergo throat swabs as well as the rapid antigen test.
CNA has reached out to the Malaysian health ministry for comments on when the special lanes will be rolled out, as well as whether these special lanes will be introduced at the land checkpoints.
It was previously reported that all travellers entering Malaysia will need to undergo temperature screening checks. Those who are found to have fever, are symptomatic or have self-declared their symptoms will be sent to a quarantine centre or to the health authorities for further checks.
At the health ministry briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Norhayati further said that travellers who have tested positive may either isolate themselves at home or at their lodging residences, or referred to the hospital depending on the severity of their disease.
On Sunday, Malaysia’s tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing said that his ministry will station officers who are fluent in Mandarin at all international airports in the country to help Chinese tourists who are not able to speak in English.
According to Free Malaysia Today, Tiong had proposed that special lanes be set up at these international airports to help speed up the arrival process for Chinese travellers.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that the government’s decision to tighten border controls amid concerns over a spike in Covid-19 cases is not meant to discriminate against any one country.
He added then that the health of Malaysians is the government’s main concern and will not be superseded by tourism or economic growth.
In December, Malaysia’s health minister Zaliha Mustafa said travellers who had been to China within the last 14 days of their arrival into the country will need to undergo the rapid antigen test.
Those who have been in close contact with people who have travelled to China in the last 14 days, or exhibit influenza-like illnesses or severe acute respiratory infection will also need to be tested for Covid-19.
The authorities would also run polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on sewage samples from aircrafts coming from China.
China suspends issuing visas in Japan, South Korea to retaliate for Covid-19 curbs
China suspended issuing short-term visas in South Korea and Japan on Tuesday (Jan. 10), after announcing it would retaliate against countries that required negative Covid-19 tests from Chinese travellers, Reuters reported.
China has ditched mandatory quarantines for arrivals and allowed travel to resume across its border with Hong Kong since Sunday, removing the last major restrictions under the “zero-Covid” regime which it abruptly began dismantling in early December after historic protests against the curbs.
But the virus is spreading unchecked among its 1.4 billion people and worries over the scale and impact of its outbreak have prompted Japan, South Korea, the United States and other countries to require negative Covid-19 tests from travellers from China.
Although China imposes similar testing requirements for all arrivals, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday entry curbs for Chinese travellers were “discriminatory” and China would take “reciprocal measures”.
In the first retaliatory move, the Chinese embassy in South Korea suspended issuing short-term visas for South Korean visitors. It would adjust the policy subject to the lifting of South Korea’s “discriminatory entry restrictions” against China, the embassy said on its official WeChat account.
The Chinese embassy in Japan later announced a similar move, saying that the mission and its consulates had suspended the issuing of visas from Tuesday. The embassy statement did not say when they would resume.
The move came soon after Japan toughened Covid-19 rules for travellers coming directly from China, prescribing a negative result of a PCR test taken less than 72 hours before departure, as well as a negative test on arrival in Japan.
With the virus let loose, China has stopped publishing daily infection tallies. It has been reporting five or fewer deaths a day since the policy U-turn, figures that have been disputed by the World Health Organization and are inconsistent with funeral providers reporting surging demand.
Some governments have raised concerns about Beijing’s data transparency as international experts predict at least 1 million deaths in China this year. Washington has also raised concerns about future potential mutations of the virus.
China dismisses criticism over its data as politically-motivated attempts to smear its “success” in handling the pandemic and said any future mutations are likely to be more infectious but less harmful.
“Since the outbreak, China has had an open and transparent attitude,” the foreign ministry’s Wang said.
But as infections surge across China’s vast rural hinterland, many, including elderly victims, are simply not bothering to get tested.
Top: Passengers are seen disembarking from an aircraft after it landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.Photo: AFP and published by CNA
Front Page: Travellers line up at the check in counter at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, on Friday, April 1, 2022. File photo: AP Photo/Vincent Thian and published by CNA
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