KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Health authorities today advised Malaysians who returned from overseas travel to isolate themselves from family members at home or housemates for 14 days.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said a home surveillance order for the Covid-19 outbreak is enforced under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, but acknowledged that some people who returned from abroad have broken home surveillance by leaving their residence.
“Maybe we’ll look at how to enforce our actions to ensure that they stay at home, or maybe we’ll place them in special quarantine centres set up by the Ministry of Health (MOH),” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference.
He said individuals with overseas travel history must practice good hygiene, frequent hand washing, and social distancing of at least one metre from other people at home during the 14 day, 24/7 self-isolation period.
They were also advised to monitor for any coronavirus symptoms like fever, cough, flu, sore throat, or breathing difficulty, and to immediately call the nearest public health facility if they experience any of those conditions.
“They have to everyday make sure [they’re] at home, they also have to practice social distancing from their family members, that’s number one. Stay in the room,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
“If they’re close contact but negative, we’ll issue a home surveillance order. They have to confine to the home. Then it’s self-voluntary, that means come back from overseas, negative, no fever, and we encourage them to stay at home for 14 days.”
The DG said MOH initially feared a second Covid-19 wave of imported cases involving Malaysians returning from overseas, whether for tours or students coming home. So health authorities’ focus now is on imported cases of Malaysians acquiring coronavirus infections abroad.
“Then we have to enhance in terms of home surveillance, we have to make sure targeted groups, for example, place them in our quarantine centres. Although they’re negative, we still have to place them for 14 days. Those positive identified, we already isolate them in our hospitals.”
When asked about the 8,000 civil servants who were approved for personal overseas trips during school holidays starting March 13 or 14, Dr Noor Hisham said he did not intend to name the ministry that approved these government workers’ international visit applications.
“As a whole, we all know, during school holidays, many of us get Matta fair tickets. They go on overseas trips, for example to Indonesia, Japan, and Korea. When they return, that’s when MOH is worried that they’ll bring the disease. So we prepared for it by imposing the Movement Control Order (MCO), thus when they come back, they stay at home.”
Before Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on March 16 the MCO starting on March 18, 10,000 Malaysians returned from overseas daily, according to Dr Noor Hisham. After the MCO was enforced, he said this dropped to 4,000 returning Malaysians a day, citing immigration authorities. The MCO has been extended to April 14.