KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Tourists to Langkawi as part of the ‘travel bubble’ pilot project that kicks off tomorrow will only be allowed to enter the resort island if they test negative for Covid-19, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

He reminded potential travellers to obtain these negative test results — either through an RT-PCR or RTK-Antigent swab test — 48-hours prior to travelling and produce evidence of their results at the predetermined entry points at airports and ferry terminals before continuing on their journey

“Travellers can purchase their own saliva self-testing kits and bring it along with them to the airports or ferry terminals to do the Covid-19 test at designated screening sites.

“Or, travellers can purchase these saliva self testing kits through services that will be prepared by the private sector at screening sites in airports and ferry terminals and do the tests there,” he said in a statement.

This requirement, said Khairy, will apply to all travellers aged seven and above.

“For children aged six and below, only a symptomatic screening will be done taking into account their abilities to produce saliva,” he said.

Khairy stressed that these young children under six-years-old must at all times be accompanied by their parents or guardians, who themselves must be fully vaccinated, non close-contacts to positive cases and are to follow the existing standard operating procedures (SOP).

The minister said screenings at airports and ferry terminals will be closely monitored by health officers deployed to the sites.

“Those who are found to be Covid-19 negative, they will be allowed to continue with their journey, while individuals who are found to be Covid-19 positive, they will not be allowed to continue on their journey and will be managed according to the SOPs for handling positive Covid-19 cases and their existing close-contacts,” he said.

Khairy stressed that the travel bubble pilot project has to be implemented carefully to ensure it runs smoothly while steering clear of potential hazards that could trigger new cases and clusters.

“And it is based on that reason that the government has to ensure that every traveller who is holidaying in Langkawi has received their full vaccine doses, are not positive cases, and not close contacts to positive cases,” he said.

“I must stress that the implementation of this travel bubble does not mean the government is giving the absolute freedom to the community to not practise self-preventive measures like using face masks, maintaining physical distancing and washing their hands often,” he said.

He said that in order to move beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone must play their part in observing the SOPs and not rely solely on government measures and policies.

“If the community takes lightly the leeway that is given, it is not impossible that the situation from the infection becomes worse,” he said.

Khairy said that at the moment, 89.9 per cent of Langkawi’s adult population have been fully vaccinated while 91.8 per cent of adults  have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.  

Malay Mail previously reported a surge in air ticket purchases and tour bookings for Langkawi following Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri’s announcement on the travel bubble to fully vaccinated individuals.

Nancy had said Langkawi will be the country’s travel bubble model to enable the government to open more holiday destinations under travel bubbles, with Labuan recently added to that list.