No plans to bring home Malaysians in Wuhan

China has limited travel out of its major cities, including Wuhan, in attempts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. (AP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the country has no plans to bring home citizens in Wuhan, China, in the light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to the media at a press conference after a high-level emergency meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in her capacity as the head of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), Saifuddin said Wisma Putra is in “constant communication” with the Malaysians living in Wuhan.

The Chinese city of 11 million is the epicentre of the coronavirus named 2019-nCoV, which has now spread to 14 countries, killing 56 people and infecting more than 2,000.

“There is no need to do so now,” said Saifuddin when asked if the ministry has plans to repatriate Malaysians in Wuhan, most of whom are students and businessmen.

“We are in constant communication with them and have no plans to bring them home.

“We have one embassy, six consulates and one trade office, and I urge Malaysians in China to get in touch with them.”

He said Wisma Putra had already issued two travel advisories for Malaysians to postpone all non-essential travel to Wuhan and other areas that could be affected by the coronavirus.

Apart from the embassy in Beijing, Malaysia also has consulates in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, Nanning, Shanghai and Xi’an and the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre in Taiwan.

During an emergency meeting on Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the coronavirus was “an emergency in China” – as opposed to declaring a global public health emergency.

Meanwhile, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the public should be extra-vigilant about fake news in the light of the outbreak.

Stating that several rumours spread on social media had caused “problems”, Gobind urged Malaysians to rely on the health ministry for updates on the outbreak.

“I’m asking everyone to be careful when sharing news on social media. Check the information before you share it,” he said.

“The health ministry regularly updates its Facebook and Twitter accounts. There will also be daily press briefings about the coronavirus outbreak,” he added.

Among the others present at today’s meeting were Health Minister Dzulkelfy Ahmad, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador, armed forces chief Affendi Buang, immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud and senior officials from various ministries.