Wuhan virus: Malaysia 'temporarily' bars China travellers from Wuhan city, Hubei province

A health official checks passengers going through a thermal scanner upon their arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Jan 21, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - Mainland Chinese travellers from Hubei province and its capital Wuhan city will be barred from entering Malaysia temporarily, the Prime Minister's Office said Monday (Jan 27).

"Based on the latest information, the Malaysian government has decided to temporarily suspend the (no visa) entry, Visa on Arrival, e-visa and manual visas to Chinese citizens from Wuhan and Hubei," the PMO said in a statement.

"This decision was made after taking into account the latest developments on the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCOV) in China, particularly in Hubei, and it is effective immediately," it added.

China citizens are normally required to apply for visas to enter Malaysia.

But tourists from China and India have been granted 15-day visa-free entry for the whole of this year, in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020 year, provided they register via Malaysia's electronic travel registration and information system in their respective countries.

The decision to bar those from Wuhan and Hubei comes amid widespread criticism over Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's initial reluctance to bar China tourists from entering the country, although Malaysia's closest neighbours also have not taken this step.

More than 360,000 people signed a petition on change.org asking the Malaysian government to stop all mainland Chinese tourists from entering the country.

Former premier Najib Razak and the crown prince of Johor have both attacked Dr Mahathir on Facebook, condemning him for allowing the continuing entry of China tourists .

PMO on Monday insisted that the government has followed all procedures recommended by the World Health Organisation and obtained advice from experts on how to contain the spread of the disease.

Remote video URL

Tourists from China totalled 2.4 million in the Jan-Sept period last year, the third biggest number of visitors after Singaporeans and Indonesians, government data showed.

Malaysia's tourist arrivals stood at 20.1 million in the first nine months of last year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.