Malaysia expands China traveller ban as coronavirus spreads

Tourists walking through Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Feb 4, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has a expanded a ban on visitors from China to include Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, after China's decision to lock down cities in the provinces to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed over 800 lives.

The South-east Asian nation on Jan 27 imposed a temporary ban on travellers arriving from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and the surrounding province of Hubei.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the decision follows China's move to extend its lockdown to five cities in Zhejiang and two in Jiangsu.

China's Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital, has been on lockdown since Jan 23.

"Travel restrictions will be enforced in accordance with the lock-down region imposed by the Chinese Government,"Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah said in a statement on Sunday (Feb 9).

The restriction will be imposed on all tourists regardless of nationality who have visited Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, she added.

"The Health Ministry, Immigration Department and other agencies at the Sultan Iskandar Complex (BSI) in Johor Baru, have also been told to increase monitoring efforts and give necessary advice to travellers from those entry points.

"Since the situation is still under control, it is still not necessary to ban entry from the whole of China except from those three provinces, which are placed under lockdown," she reiterated.

Malaysia has reported 17 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday, three of which had been discharged after making a recovery

Twelve of the confirmed cases are Chinese nationals, while the rest are Malaysians, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the director general of health at the country's Ministry of Health, said in a statement on Sunday.

The latest case is a 65-year-old woman, the mother-in-law to a 41-year-old Malaysian man who contracted the virus after attending a company meeting in Singapore last month.

At least three people who attended that meeting, including the Malaysian man, have contracted the virus, sparking a World Health Organisation investigation of the case.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has reached 811 as of Saturday, according to China's National Health Commission.

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