Malaysia adds health workers at KLIA for flights from Sabah after complaints over long queues

Malaysia's Health Minister Adham Baba (blue mask) and the ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah (black mask), at KLIA talking to passengers from Sabah on Sept 29, 2020. PHOTO: MALAYSIA'S MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Passengers from Sabah had complained on social media that many had to queue between three to six hours to get Covid-19 tests at KLIA. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has added the number of health workers and equipment at the country's main Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to check on flight passengers from Sabah, following complaints on social media that many had to queue between three to six hours to get Covid-19 tests.

The country's two top health officials made a surprise visit to KLIA and its low-cost KLIA2 terminal in the wee hours of Monday morning (Sept 28) following the complaints.

Sabah has seen an explosion of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks and held state elections last weekend. The health ministry made Covid-19 tests compulsory from Sunday (Sept 27) for all passengers arriving from Sabah.

Those arriving must take oral or nasal swabs, and if found negative, will be tagged with health armbands and undergo a compulsory 14-day home quarantine order.

Those who tested positive are taken to hospitals.

With the polls over, many political campaigners are flying back to Kuala Lumpur, joining other arrivals from Sabah, Malaysia's second biggest state after Sarawak.

Malaysians are allowed to travel freely within the country's border.

Health Minister Adham Baba and the ministry's director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, arrived at 2am.

The complaints were that there were not enough personnel manning the tests, and this was compounded when more flights arrived.

The long wait raised anger among the exhuasted and hungry passengers, and there was concern of the lack of social distancing in the crowded arrival corridors.

Dr Adham and Dr Noor Hisham saw for themselves the long queues when they arrived.

"Adham is surveying the crowding of passengers from Sabah arriving at KLIA and KLIA2," the ministry said on its Twitter account on Monday.

"The crowding problem will be immediately resolved with additional equipment and personnel. He thanked Health Ministry personnel for their commitment."

Four districts is Sabah have been classified as "red zones", with more than 40 new local cases reported in the past 14 days - Tawau with 332 cases, Semporna (212), Lahad Datu (97) and Kunak (51).

Malaysia on Sunday reported recorded a total of 10,919 cases with 134 deaths.

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