Coronavirus: More Malaysians set to flock home after new curbs in Singapore

A traffic-free Causeway after Malaysia imposed its movement control order on March 18. The Malaysiakini news portal said Malaysians who are returning home should undergo a swab test in Singapore and present the certificate at the entry points.
A traffic-free Causeway after Malaysia imposed its movement control order on March 18. The Malaysiakini news portal said Malaysians who are returning home should undergo a swab test in Singapore and present the certificate at the entry points.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Country says it's ready for influx; no quarantine for those free of Covid-19

JOHOR BARU • The Johor immigration department is expecting more Malaysians currently staying in Singapore to return home after the Republic announced significantly stricter measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic, The Star has reported.

The department's director, Mr Baharuddin Tahir, last Saturday said it is prepared for the expected influx at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at the Causeway and Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar at the Second Link.

"The department is expecting to see a high number of Malaysians returning home between April 1 and 14 compared with March 18 to 31," he said. "This is due to several restrictions faced by Malaysians working across the Causeway."

Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir had urged the Malaysian government last Friday to let Malaysians in Singapore return following the Republic's announcement, as many Malaysians there would not be able to work.

Malaysiakini reported last Saturday that Malaysia will waive the 14-day quarantine requirement for its workers returning from Singapore, provided they test negative for the coronavirus.

The returning Malaysians should first undergo a swab test in Singapore and then present the test certificate at the entry point in Malaysia.

"Malaysians working in Singapore who wish to return (home) during (Malaysia's) movement control order (MCO) period are required to get a swab test in Singapore and present a letter or certificate to confirm he or she is free of Covid-19 at the entry point before being allowed to enter.

"They will not need to be quarantined if they are confirmed to be negative," said immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud in a letter addressed to the Johor immigration department seen by Malaysiakini.

The MCO, which is in force until April 14 to contain the pandemic, requires all Malaysians returning from abroad to be isolated for 14 days.

 
 
 
 

Malaysians are not allowed to go overseas, while tourists are not allowed into the country. Schools and non-essential businesses have been shuttered.

Health ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said last Saturday that any further extension of the MCO will depend on Covid-19 data in the country by April 10.

"We hope that by April 10, the data is available for us to make a decision on whether we need to extend or not," he told a press conference.

He said the ministry would be monitoring the situation but noted that all Malaysians would have to play their part as well.

"If we can keep to staying at home, making sure we wash our hands and (practise) social distancing, then we will look into the data," he added.

Before the MCO was implemented, on March 18, an estimated 300,000 Malaysians commuted from Johor daily to work in Singapore.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last Friday that most workplaces will be closed from tomorrow as part of measures to pre-empt an escalation in coronavirus infections.

Malaysia yesterday reported 179 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative total to 3,662, the highest number of infections in South-east Asia, Reuters reported.

Four more people have died from the virus, raising the tally to 61 as of noon yesterday, the health ministry said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2020, with the headline 'More Malaysians set to flock home after new curbs in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe