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Coronavirus: Malaysians in Singapore can't return yet, says minister

Malaysian minister says Malaysians here not allowed to return until changes in agreement are finalised

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysia-Singapore joint working group on Covid-19 will meet to discuss changes to conditions before allowing Malaysians working in the Republic to return home, said Malaysian Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Until the changes are finalised, they will not be allowed to return to Malaysia, he said.

Malaysians who work in Singapore and want to return home must be tested for Covid-19 in the Republic, he said.

But Singapore's Ministry of Health said yesterday that Covid-19 testing is done when clinically indicated, for patients and their close contacts.

"There is currently no requirement by the Government of Singapore for foreigners exiting Singapore to be swabbed for non-clinical grounds," the ministry said, responding to queries.

Mr Ismail Sabri said that there are some changes to the conditions and the joint working group is working on the new conditions.

"I believe that the Foreign Ministry will inform us at the meeting tomorrow on what are the new conditions agreed upon by Malaysia and Singapore," he said.

"But for now, we won't allow Malaysians in Singapore to return."

Johor has appealed to Singapore to allow Malaysians in the Republic to return home in stages so it can better manage them.

Mentri Besar Hasni Mohammad said if the Singapore Government could allow between 1,000 and 2,000 Malaysians to return each day, it would be of great assistance to the state government.

Malaysia yesterday reported 131 new infections, raising the country's total to 3,793 cases, the highest in South-east Asia.

There were 62 deaths, including one more reported as of noon yesterday.

REST OF SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Indonesia announced its biggest daily increase in cases yesterday and a medical association said 24 doctors have now died after contracting the virus.

The rise in the death toll among doctors, which has doubled since last week, followed criticism of a lack of protective equipment in Indonesia.

The 218 new cases took the number overall in Indonesia to 2,491.

The 209 confirmed deaths, including 11 reported yesterday, is the highest number of fatalities in Asia outside China.

"The trend of (doctors dying) is heading for the sky," said Mr Halik Malik, a spokesman for the Indonesian Doctors Association which confirmed the doctors' deaths from Covid-19.

"The risk of medical workers getting infected is always there... but the point is medical workers need to be protected in any way," said Mr Malik.

Health experts have pointed to the high percentage of deaths among the number of confirmed cases as a sign the outbreak is much larger than official data suggests in the world's fourth most populous nation.

Neighbouring Philippines reported 11 additional deaths and 414 new infections.

The death toll hit 163 and infections rose to 3,660.

Thailand reported 51 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths yesterday. It now has 2,220 cases and 26 fatalities since the outbreak emerged there in January. - THE STAR, REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES

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