Putrajaya in bid to bring home Malaysians stranded in virus-hit Wuhan

Thousands of people have been infected with the coronavirus in China’s Hubei province, with the death toll now over 130. (AP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government has negotiated with the Chinese government to allow the return of Malaysians stranded in the Hubei province, where its capital Wuhan has come under a lockdown following the coronavirus epidemic.

“Malaysians returning from Wuhan will be quarantined for 14 days before they are allowed to go home,” the prime minister said at a press conference here.

He said those returning will be treated at 26 government and specialist hospitals.

Mahathir said authorities have identified 78 Malaysians currently in Hubei.

He said negotiations with China include whether Beijing would allow Malaysian aircraft into the province.

He said Malaysia is also prepared to provide supplies to the locals in Wuhan.

“If they allow our aircraft in, we can being in food supplies and face masks,” he added.

He said the matter was decided at the Cabinet meeting today and the foreign ministry would take charge.

He added that the government did not know how many Chinese nationals from Wuhan were already in Malaysia before the epidemic.

Meanwhile, Mahathir warned that action would be taken against individuals who spread fake news that incite fear or hate in light of the coronavirus epidemic.

“We also found that there were irresponsible reports that supposedly, non-Muslim tourists in Malaysia could not enter mosques.

“This is not government policy. This is irresponsible. There are no places that cannot be visited by tourists just because, apparently, they might bring coronavirus to these places,” he said.