PUTRAJAYA – Malaysia will tighten screening rules for all foreign arrivals, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said, amid concerns about the rampant Covid-19 outbreak in China.
“We are going to tighten screening, but we won’t discriminate against any country,” he said at a post-Cabinet briefing on Wednesday.
The government will prioritise people’s health over the economy, he said.
“Cabinet has unequivocally decided that health is the main priority, and that questions surrounding tourism and the economy cannot override these interests,” he added.
He said that immigration checkpoints into the country will be tightened to screen arrivals from places with a high rate of infections.
Malaysia joins several countries in tightening measures for travellers amid fears that the return of tourists from China could spark a Covid-19 resurgence in their own populations.
Last week, Malaysia’s Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said that the country will test wastewater samples from all flights arriving from China for Covid-19.
She said those showing signs of infection will be quarantined for further tests.
Pre-pandemic, China was the third-largest country in terms of tourist arrivals in Malaysia.
About 3.1 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2019, out of the overall 26.1 million arrivals, according to data from Tourism Malaysia.
Commenting on the extremely low take-up by Malaysians of Covid-19 booster shots, Mr Anwar said about six million doses of boosters are still available, and urged people to get vaccinated as a form of protection.
He suggested that media personnel should lead by example and get their booster shots.
Dr Zaliha on Monday said only 49.8 per cent of Malaysians have received their first booster dose, while only 1.9 per cent have obtained their second booster. BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK