KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — The Malaysian government has temporarily suspended entry to Chinese nationals from Hubei province and its provincial capital Wuhan city, the epicentre of a mysterious coronavirus outbreak.
Malaysia is believed to be the second country in the world to bar entry to travellers from Hubei, after North Korea last week banned entry from all foreign tourists, Washington Post reported. Hong Kong yesterday also banned entry of Hubei residents, as well as Taiwan, and Macao (unless visitors show a medical certificate saying they don’t have the coronavirus). Mongolia also today closed border crossings to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, Reuters reported.
The Prime Minister’s Office today announced the temporary suspension of all immigration facilities for those Chinese residents, including visa-free entry, visa on arrival, e-visa, and manual visa.
“This decision was made after taking into account the latest developments in the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China, particularly in Hubei province, and is effective immediately,” said the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement.
“These immigration facilities will be restored when things get back to normal.”
Four coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Malaysia, all Chinese nationals from Wuhan who entered Johor from Singapore.
The Ministry of Health said that up to noon yesterday, 23 patients were under investigation for suspected infection of the new strain of coronavirus from the same family of viruses as SARS, comprising 14 Malaysians, eight Chinese nationals, and a Jordan citizen.
Out of these, four (two Malaysians and two Chinese nationals) have been isolated in a few hospitals, awaiting test results, while 18 tested negative for the novel coronavirus. One tested positive, which was one of the four confirmed cases.
Last Friday, the Philippines reportedly deported almost 500 tourists from Wuhan when they landed in Aklan, but the Philippine palace said there was no recommendation yet to ban visitors from Wuhan from entering the Philippines.
A petition to the Malaysian government to bar entry to Chinese nationals, amid the coronavirus outbreak, has reached over 370,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The 2019-nCoV has claimed 80 lives, all in China, while the number of infections has surpassed 2,700 globally, according to the Guardian.