Penang halts medical tourists after arrivals from Indonesia

AirAsia says another medical charter flight is scheduled from Jakarta to Penang next Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Penang has barred entry by overseas visitors seeking medical treatment until it finalises new health and safety procedures in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

Authorities toughened curbs on movement in some parts of the island over the weekend, as new infections emerged after more than three months with no cases.

In a statement, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said three Indonesian patients had arrived by a special flight last Friday to be treated at private hospitals – two victims of cancer and one in need of immediate treatment.

“The state government deeply regrets that it was not informed of the ‘sudden’ arrival of the patients,” he said.

He did not say if the trio had tested positive for the virus, but authorities were told the patients had followed all the SOPs.

Chow said the ban will stay until the health ministry finalises procedures to deal with healthcare tourism.

AirAsia.com, the digital platform of budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd, said it flew its first medical charter flight to Penang from Medan on Friday, with another charter flight from Jakarta scheduled for next Monday.

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