KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Malaysians returning home from abroad from April 3 will be sent to quarantine centres for 14 days, Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The senior defence minister said as soon as Malaysians arrive at the airport, they will be bussed immediately to government quarantine centres.
“While they reside at the quarantine centres, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will screen them to check their health status and, at the same time, other SOPs (standard operating procedures) set by the National Security Council (NSC) and MOH must be followed by all our citizens in the quarantine centres,” Ismail Sabri told a press conference.
“I advise families not to go to the airport to receive their family members returning from abroad because they will straightaway be sent from the airport to quarantine centres that have been set by the government.”
He advised Malaysians staying overseas, like students, to remain in those countries if they have housing.
Malaysians who return to their home country, whether by chartered or commercial flights, will be quarantined.
The senior defence minister also said Putrajaya was in discussions with a state government, which he did not name, that was willing to provide 100 free buses to transport returning Malaysians to quarantine centres.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday advised Malaysians who returned from overseas travel to isolate themselves from family members at home or housemates for 14 days, saying that health authorities’ focus now was on imported cases of Malaysians acquiring coronavirus infections abroad.
Before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18, 10,000 Malaysians returned from overseas daily, according to Dr Noor Hisham. After the MCO came into effect, this dropped to 4,000 returning Malaysians a day, the DG said, citing immigration authorities. The MCO has been extended to April 14, during which Malaysians and permanent residents are prohibited from travelling abroad for holidays.
Dr Noor Hisham previously said MOH did not have the capacity to quarantine 32,000 people.
Update at 4:30pm:
The Defence Ministry later clarified that the quarantine requirement also applied to Malaysians coming home from abroad via land and maritime transport.