AFTER appeals from several netizens and some analysts, the Health Ministry is now considering whether inbound visitors should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering Malaysia.
This is in light of several social media posts from concerned netizens after the ministry announced that tourists from China will be allowed in the country when China reopens its doors as of Jan 8.
Director-general of health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, stated in responses to Berita Harian today that the ministry does not rely solely on one method to screen travellers, including those from China, which is currently experiencing a COVID-19 surge.
He stated that several other conditions are being considered, including the requirement that they be fully vaccinated, adding that, “It won’t be limited to just one method as many other countries are still monitoring the situation before deciding on a course of action. Among the methods will be requiring them to be fully-vaccinated.”
He was also responding to health experts’ criticism that the ministry’s screening methods for travellers, specifically temperature checks and testing waste water samples from inbound flights from China, were insufficient to stem an outbreak of infections.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa announced yesterday that inbound travellers, including those from China, would be subjected to temperature checks at international entry points.
She also stated that the authorities would collect waste water samples from aircraft arriving from the republic, and the samples would be sent for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. If the samples tested positive for COVID-19, genome sequencing would be done to determine the variant.
However, netizens and experts were outraged, urging the minister not to repeat the mistakes made in 2020 when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad failed to stop the influx of Chinese visitors following the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019.
Netizens recalled that Dr Mahathir had previously stated that there was no need to close Malaysia’s borders and that tourists, including those from China, were welcomed because he and his government did not consider the COVID-19 to be a threat.
On the other hand, experts had recommended that Malaysia also impose mandatory RT-PCR COVID-19 tests on inbound travellers. — Dec 31, 2022
Main photo credit: SCMP