Strict checks for coronavirus being carried out at Penang cruise terminal

Cruise passengers lining up to be screened at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal in George Town. (Facebook pic)

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Port Commission today denied social media claims that it was allowing foreigners to enter without them undergoing medical screening for coronavirus.

Port chairman Jeffrey Chew said they were following health ministry requirements strictly, with health department officers vetting those entering Penang at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal.

He said claims by cybertroopers that the port authorities were allowing Chinese nationals en masse without checking were unfounded and malicious.

“No passenger is spared. Cruise ships from Singapore had already undergone strict screenings in the republic earlier but we check them again,” he told FMT.

He said two ships from Singapore berthed at the pier here at 3.30pm today and three full-time medical officers conducted the screening of the passengers.

Penang immigration director Muhamad Husni Mahmud later also confirmed that the 1,209 Chinese nationals who entered Penang on a cruise ship here today did not display any signs of the coronavirus.

The number of passengers, who made stops in Penang in between their long cruises, increased significantly for the whole of last year to 449,885 from 354,047 in 2018.

Most of these tourists on transit here are from South Korea, the United Kingdom, India, China and Australia.

These transit passengers typically spend about half a day visiting places of interest on the island before returning to their ships.

Last year, the cruise terminal recorded 1.2 million passengers.

Meanwhile, in LANGKAWI, a travel agency here has denied an allegation that hundreds of Chinese nationals had arrived on the island to escape the coronavirus outbreak, as seen in a picture that has now gone viral on social media.

Fantastic Tour Sdn Bhd marketing manager Mohd Fadhil Kamaruddin the picture showed the arrival of his agency’s passengers from Nanjing, China, on Jan 17.

“Some 180 passengers from Nanjing arrived at the Langkawi International Airport at 6am on Jan 17 via a special chartered flight using Malindo Air.

“They were here for five days until Jan 21 and have already returned home.

“That was an old picture of the passengers arriving on Jan 17,” he told Bernama here today.

Meanwhile, KPJ Seremban has denied a viral post that one of their patients has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

A spokesman said the medical report produced was fake. “No one in this hospital is down with the Wuhan virus.”

Dr Syed Jefrizal Syed Jamal, the paediatric consultant whose name is cited in the medical report, has also taken to Facebook to deny it.

He wrote that his patient was not diagnosed with coronavirus.

So far, Malaysia has confirmed four cases of coronavirus, all of them tourists from China who entered through Singapore.