KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Despite feeling empathetic towards those businesses or households with staff or workers stuck abroad, the country’s borders will remain shut for non-Malaysians seeking to enter the country, said Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The senior minister today understood the plight of those affected, such as restaurants with staff unable to enter Malaysia currently stuck in countries such as Thailand, or those with home helpers still in Indonesia or the Philippines.

As much as he was aware of their predicament, Ismail Sabri pointed out that the health and wellbeing of Malaysians come first.

“We understand, but we (the government) see the health aspect as the most important right now.

“We have made the decision and the borders will still remain closed; we will not loosen the controls yet,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the main reason behind the government’s apprehension towards reopening the borders was based on the local and global trend of new Covid-19 clusters being caused by imported cases.

He said the constant detection of positive cases among travellers, not only those entering Malaysia, but even to other countries previously touted as exemplary at handling Covid-19, forced the government to keep its doors shut.

“So to those looking to return from countries like Thailand or helpers from Indonesia, even though their help is of great need, we still do not allow them to enter the country.

“Even though we understand the situation, the danger is great, and the ones who would have to suffer are Malaysians,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the position of the government still stands, with only specific non-Malaysians that meet the criteria, such as spouses or business owners, allowed into the country for now.