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No swab test means quarantine for Malaysians back from Singapore

Malaysians returning from Singapore quarantined after Johor Immigration enforces new swab test ruling

JOHOR BARU: Johor Immigration has been told to strictly adhere to the Malaysian government's latest decision that Malaysian workers returning from Singapore must first show proof of being cleared of Covid-19.

In a note to the state Immigration director, department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said only those who had undergone the swab test in the Republic and were certified free from the deadly disease would be exempted from the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine.

He said they must have documents to show that they had tested negative.

Mr Khairul said the latest ruling was made by the special Cabinet meeting last Friday.

Prior to this, the workers only needed to show a letter from a doctor in Singapore that they had no Covid-19 symptoms.

Several Malaysians returning from Singapore were caught off-guard when they were sent to a government quarantine centre in Johor Baru, with their medical certificates clearing them of Covid-19 symptoms rejected at the checkpoint.

More Malaysian workers are making their way back from Singapore after the Republic announced stricter measures on Friday to address the pandemic, with most workplaces being closed from Tuesday.

Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon told The Star there was currently no requirement by his government to provide random Covid-19 tests for foreign workers.

NO REQUIREMENT

"The Covid-19 testing is performed, when clinically indicated, for patients and close contacts of patients," he said.

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

Singapore's Ministry of Health has said Covid-19 testing is performed 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 in response to media queries.

Kuala Lumpur does not impose a similar testing requirement on others entering Malaysia, such as via Kuala Lumpur International Airport, nor does it test foreign workers in the country before they return home.

Among returning Malaysians who were caught off-guard at the Johor checkpoint was student Tan Jie Yang, 16, who said that his travel back to Johor Baru on Monday was a "confusing experience".

"I was returning to Johor Baru with my sister and a friend as our schools have shut down due to the partial lockdown in Singapore," he said.

"We thought that we will be able to self-quarantine at home if we did not have Covid-19 symptoms and have documents indicating that we are fit to travel, but we were surprised when they told us that we had to be quarantined at a government centre."

Elsewhere in the region, Indonesia confirmed yesterday that it had 218 new coronavirus infections, taking its total to 2,956.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 19 new coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 240.

The Philippines reported five more deaths yesterday, with 106 additional infections bringing the total to 182 fatalities and 3,870 infections.

Confirmed cases in Thailand rose by 111 yesterday to 2,369, with three additional deaths reported, taking fatalities to 30.

Phuket island has become a new hot spot, with 140 infections to date. - THE STAR, REUTERS

WORLD