Penang shuts down medical tourism over fresh Covid-19 fears

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks during a press conference at Komtar in George Town August 14, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks during a press conference at Komtar in George Town August 14, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Aug 17 — Penang will no longer allow entry to medical tourists due to the re-emergence of Covid-19 infections here, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

The Penang lawmaker said the state will inform the Health Ministry and National Security Council (NSC) of its decision soon.

“I will hold an emergency meeting with all relevant agencies today and make a final decision on this issue,” he said in a statement issued late last night following flak over news that Indonesian medical tourists were flown into the state last Friday.

On August 14, AirAsia announced the arrival of a medical charter flight from Medan at the Penang International Airport.

Chow claimed the state administration only learned that the chartered flight brought in the medical tourists from news reports.

“The state government was not informed by the relevant parties regarding the arrival of three patients from Indonesia to a private hospital here,” he said.

He said after the issue made the news, he had obtained further information from the state health department and the state NSC regarding the arrival of the medical tourists.

“I was informed that all patients had complied with all standard operating procedures fixed by the relevant authorities including the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council and the Immigration Department,” he said.

He stressed that the state remained committed to protecting the safety and health of its residents.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who had given their feedback regarding this issue,” he said.

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