Govt studying need to ban all flights from China, says PM

Lee Chi Leong

A notice informing the public that masks are sold out is seen in the window of a pharmacy in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, today. Malaysians are snapping up masks to protect themselves from a coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, that has spread to several countries. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, January 30, 2020.

THERE is no decision yet on whether to ban all flights from China in light of the coronavirus outbreak, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister said the government needs to study the matter first.

“There has yet to be a need. We are studying whether we need to stop all flights (from China) or only those from Wuhan (city) and Hubei province (where Wuhan is located),” he said in Putrajaya today.

Dr Mahathir was asked whether the federal government will follow Sabah’s move, announced today, to temporarily ban all flights from China.

It was reported that Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew said the suspension involves all scheduled and chartered flights from China to the state.

She said the decision was made at a state cabinet meeting yesterday, in the interest of Sabahans’ welfare.

The flights will resume once the situation returns to normal, she said.

Dr Mahathir said there has yet to be feedback from China on Malaysia’s plan to repatriate its citizens stranded in Hubei, the epicentre of the viral outbreak.

“We have just started talking about this matter. No response yet.”

Earlier today, Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the cabinet has activated a special humanitarian committee to repatriate Malaysians stranded in the hard-hit Chinese province.

He said the Foreign Ministry has been tasked with determining how many Malaysians are in Hubei.

Asked whether Putrajaya will repatriate Malaysians who have contracted the virus, he said: “We are still discussing with the local government in China.” – January 30, 2020.

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