Malaysia suspends visas for Chinese nationals from Wuhan, Hubei province

A health officer from Langkawi conducts a temperature check on passengers disembarking from a ferry from Thailand following the coronavirus outbreak. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Chinese citizens from Wuhan city and Hubei province, and its surrounding areas, over concerns of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the suspension includes visa-free entry (eNTRY), visa-on-arrival, electronic visa and manual visas. “The facility will be restored when the situation normalises,” the statement added.

The implementation of the visa suspension would be coordinated by the foreign affairs ministry and the Chinese government.

It said Malaysia was strictly following procedures set by the World Health Organisation and has adhered to advice from experts in facing the threat of the coronavirus and preventing its spread.

Emergency team set up at Beijing embassy

Malaysia’s embassy in Beijing has set up an emergency response team to monitor and provide reports on the latest development of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in China, the foreign minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, said today.

The team would also be responsible for communicating with Malaysians registered with the embassy or consulate-general offices in China to keep tabs on their health and wellbeing. Malaysia has consulate-general offices in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, Nanning, Shanghai and Xi’an.

He said in a posting on Facebook that the embassy staff were working round-the-clock without taking a break, even during the Chinese New Year holidays.

Tough action pledged against those spreading fake news

The harshest penalties under the law will be sought against those spreading fake news on the coronavirus outbreak, the internet regulator, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, and the police said today.

In a joint statement, they said that offenders are liable to be charged with making statements conducive to public mischief, which carries a two-year jail sentence or fine, upon conviction.

Offenders are also liable to be charged under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which carries a one-year jail term or a fine of RM100,000 or both, upon conviction.

“Police and MCMC have identified four people to assist us in our investigation into the spread of fake news concerning the virus,” the joint statement added.

AirAsia’s Wuhan flights suspended until Feb 29

AirAsia has extended its suspension of flights to Wuhan until Feb 29. The low-cost airline had earlier announced it was suspending flights to the coronavirus-stricken city until Jan 28.

AirAsia flies to Wuhan from Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok and Phuket.

The low-cost airline said passengers could obtain a credit to their account or a full refund.