Malaysia wants international students to return

Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said international students must take a virus test in their home country, or when they land in Malaysia. PHOTO: BERNAMA
Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said international students must take a virus test in their home country, or when they land in Malaysia. PHOTO: BERNAMA

PETALING JAYA • International students studying in Malaysia's public and private higher learning institutions can return to the South-east Asian country to resume their studies, said Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Malaysia, which has been progressively rolling back its movement restrictions after three months of partial lockdown since March 18, will also allow health procedures for restaurants and eateries to be changed so that their premises can operate at full capacity.

Datuk Seri Ismail said these international students need not apply to the Immigration Department before coming to Malaysia. But they have to register with either the Education Ministry or the Higher Education Ministry.

"They need to register, as the Immigration Department needs the list given by the Education and Higher Education Ministries for reference at the airports," he said during his thrice-a-week security briefing on Covid-19 yesterday.

Mr Ismail added that these students must undergo Covid-19 testing in their country of origin, or as soon as they land in Malaysia.

A news report last December said Malaysia hosted 130,000 international students from 136 countries. They were mainly from other countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Malaysia has progressively rolled back its movement control order as Covid-19 cases are seen to be on a downtrend. The country yesterday reported six new Covid-19 cases, to bring the cumulative total of infections to 8,535. The death toll is 121. And the Covid-19 recovery rate is now at 94.6 per cent out of the total number of positive cases.

Mr Ismail said students coming in from "green zone countries" need not be quarantined while those from red zone ones must undergo the 14-day quarantine process. The green zone countries include Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand and Australia, he said.

The minister also said expatriates working in Malaysia are being allowed to return without having to get authorisation from the Immigration Department.

Meanwhile, the special ministerial meeting that meets regularly to discuss Covid-19 issues has agreed to amend standard operating procedures (SOP) for restaurants and eateries, to allow them to operate at full capacity.

The number of customers at a table will depend on its width, and social distancing must be adhered to, the Malay Mail online news quoted Mr Ismail as saying. The previous SOP for dine-ins was to leave alternate chairs and table spots empty, and with a minimum 2m distance between two tables.

"Sometimes, families of four or more people coming into restaurants or eateries are required to sit separately since operators are strict about the SOP. As long as social distancing is maintained, then it is not an issue for them to all sit at the same table," Mr Ismail was quoted as saying.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2020, with the headline Malaysia wants international students to return. Subscribe