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04 Apr 2020 | 02:00 AM UTC

Malaysia: Government introduces further travel restrictions for foreign nationals amid COVID-19 outbreak /update 10

Malaysian authorities implement stricter measures for foreign nationals under the Movement Control Order (MOC) from April 1-14; adhere to directives

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Malaysian authorities have announced stricter measures concerning the entry of foreign nationals into the country under the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was introduced on Wednesday, April 1, until Tuesday, April 14, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Under the new restrictions, foreign nationals will not be able to enter Malaysia until at least April 14, except for those with diplomatic passports, Permanent Residence, or who are an "expatriate in an essential service." Individuals with working visas or "Malaysia My Second Home" visas do not qualify for an exemption and will be denied entry. Additionally, those who are permitted entry into the country will be obliged to enter quarantine for 14 days in centers designated by the government.

To date, there are no restrictions in place for foreign nationals that wish to leave Malaysia or with travelers intending to transit/transfer within terminals at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), although they will be unable to transfer between the KLIA and KLIA2 (the terminal used by budget airlines, including Air Asia) unless they meet the above immigration requirements.

According to the Movement Control Order issued on April 1, eateries, markets, and petrol stations will only be allowed to operate from 08:00 to 20:00 (local time). In addition, authorities added that more roadblocks will be set up, and checks on the movement of people will be increased. The restrictions will not affect public transport, including taxis and e-hailing services, which will operate from 06:00 to 22:00 (local time). The government has also recommended the public to use delivery options to purchase meals and groceries, but to minimise their contact with delivery riders. Additionally, vehicles delivering or collecting essential goods are advised to operate between 19:00 to 07:00 (local time) to avoid backlogs. Separately, an enhanced MCO will be imposed in Hulu Langat, Selangor, where 71 out of 274 individuals from a Tahfiz school test were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes and no visitors will be allowed to enter the area.

The military has been deployed to help enforce movement restrictions since Sunday, March 22. Restrictions include prohibiting Malaysian citizens from leaving the country, discouraging non-essential domestic travel, and closing all schools and non-essential government services and businesses. On Monday, March 16, Prime Minister Yassin announced that Malaysia had closed its borders to foreign travelers. Malaysian citizens may continue to return to the country but must undergo a health inspection and mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.

As of Saturday, April 4, Malaysia has reported 3333 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 53 associated fatalities nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands. 
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.