Dr M: No urgency yet to ban all China flights

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Rural Development Ministry in Putrajaya January 30, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Rural Development Ministry in Putrajaya January 30, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 30 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today dismissed barring all incoming flights from China, amid a ban imposed by Sabah and Sarawak earlier.

Dr Mahathir said there is no urgency so far to take that step, before adding that Putrajaya is still reviewing such a policy.

“For now, there is no need for that,” Dr Mahathir said during a short press conference after attending a stakeholders’ gathering organised by the Rural Development Ministry here.

“We will do a study as to whether we need to stop all the flights or just from Wuhan, Hubei province only.”

The Sarawak government today disallowed China students, who are studying in the state, from re-entering after their Chinese New Year holidays in their home country out of fear that they may be 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) carriers.

Sabah, meanwhile, suspended all scheduled and chartered flights from China in a heightened bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week, Putrajaya announced a temporary ban on residents from Hubei province and its capital city of Wuhan from entering Malaysia by suspending all available visa programmes facilitating their entry here.

On Putrajaya’s efforts to evacuate Malaysians trapped in the Hubei province, Dr Mahathir said that discussions with the Chinese government had just begun and a response from its authorities had yet to be received.

“We just started talking with them. Haven’t got a response yet,” Dr Mahathir said.

Earlier, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad announced a special task force to locate and bring back Malaysians currently still in Hubei province.

The task force, called the Special Committee for Humanitarian Assistance, will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Disaster Management Agency, National Security Council and local carriers Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia.

The Health Ministry confirmed today a new 2019-nCoV infection, bringing the country’s total to eight.

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