MUAR: The special committee set up to tackle the 2019 novel coronavirus infection in the country will look into the need to further restrict the entry of Chinese visitors into the country after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the infection as a global public health emergency.
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said while the committee headed by the health ministry was looking into the matter, the government would maintain the current ban on tourists only from Wuhan and other areas around the Hubei province.
“I think the committee and the health ministry can review (the need to expand the travel ban).
“If the committee says it is necessary for us to expand it and it is approved by the Cabinet, then we will implement it,” he told reporters after a special meeting with the Pagoh division Armada and Srikandi wings at the Pagoh multipurpose hall today.
Muhyiddin said this in response to WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom’s announcement in Geneva on Thursday that the coronavirus infection is now a global public health emergency.
According to media reports up to 7pm tonight, the outbreak has killed 213 people in China, with more than 9,000 cases recorded there.
A total of 115 cases have been confirmed in 22 other countries, including Malaysia, which has eight cases, all of them Chinese nationals.
Registration of China students put off
Meanwhile, the education ministry has temporarily postponed the registration of students from Wuhan, the Hubei province and surrounding areas at all learning institutions in the country in the face of the virus outbreak.
In its statement tonight, the ministry said the postponement was until a later date.
However, it said students from other provinces in China were allowed to register for study in Malaysia, under close observation by their respective learning institutions.
The ministry also advised all learning institutions in Malaysia to undertake precautionary measures as prescribed by the health ministry.
“This includes monitoring the health status of educationists and administration staff as well as students who have just returned from China,” it said.
Malaysia heeding WHO warning
In PUTRAJAYA, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Malaysia had acted proactively to prevent the spread of the coronavirus before the WHO declaration.
He said Malaysia had also shared current information on the virus with countries in the Southeast Asian region in its capacity as the lead for the Asean Emergency Operations Centre Network for public health emergencies (or Asean EOC Network).
“The Asean EOC Network enables member countries to share data in real time concerning the coronavirus situation and analyses, as well as preventive measures.
“All of this was undertaken by Malaysia before the WHO declaration. We are on top and in control of all of this,” he said during a press conference at the health ministry here on the latest developments concerning the outbreak.
Dzulkefly said that up till noon today, there had been no increase in the number of positive cases in Malaysia, and all the eight individuals were in a stable condition.
Asked whether the Chinese government had asked for its infected citizens to be sent back to China, he said: “There has been no request so far.”
Commenting on media reports that China had sent two planes to repatriate its citizens from Malaysia and Thailand, Dzulkefly said his ministry had not been informed of the matter.
He added that up till noon today, laboratory test results for 17 cases were pending.
“The total number of patients under investigation for coronavirus is 127, of which 68 are Malaysians, 56 Chinese, and one each from Jordan, Brazil and Thailand,” he said.