Temporary travel ban on China nationals could curb spread of Wuhan coronavirus, opines state PKR leader

Voon Shiak Ni (File photo)

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KUCHING, Jan 26: PKR Sarawak vice-chairwoman Voon Shiak Ni opines that a temporary ban on China nationals entering Malaysia could reduce exposure to high risks groups and serve as an urgent measure to contain the spread of the Wuhan virus.

Following the coronavirus outbreak in China, the Chinese government has locked down the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, including Huanggang and Ezhou, halting the movement of about 20 million people.

“This is a drastic measure but it has to be done to contain the international spread of the virus before the number of victims gets too big and out of control.

“With the confirmation of four China nationals testing positive with the coronavirus in Johor, the public has shown their concern that the virus is now in the country and the matter has triggered a public outcry for a ban on China nationals coming into the country,” Voon asserted in a statement.

An online petition started yesterday to call on the government to ban China nationals from entering Malaysia has garnered nearly 200,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Voon agreed that Malaysia must not wait until the number of affected victims increased to warrant drastic measures.

“This is because the virus is easily communicated and transmitted. The lack of awareness of our vulnerability to the virus and lack of necessary information of the spread of the virus and disease may lead to undetected and unreported cases which will escalate the spread,” she asserted.

She added that although there were reports that travel bans and restrictions during the outbreaks of SARS in 2003 and Ebola epidemic in 2014 had actually shown that these measures were not effective in halting the crossborder spread of diseases or limiting the spread of the disease, Voon insisted that a temporary ban can help.

Concerned over the matter, Voon noted that in Sarawak, there are many China nationals who worked in eateries, retail businesses and reflexology centres.

“After the Chinese New Year holidays, these people will return to Sarawak to resume their work and livelihood here. Therefore it is of grave concern as to what are the measures in place to make sure the return of these China nationals are free from the virus (sic). Is the health screening at the airport check points of entry enough?” she questioned.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health has activated all of its Rapid Response Teams (RRT) and Rapid Assessment Teams (RAT) to carry out contact tracing activities.

Voon also advised members of the public to play their part in preventing the spread of the disease by taking the necessary measures to protect themselves and loved ones. — DayakDaily