In an effort to prevent imported COVID-19 cases, Malaysia announced its plan to bar entry of long-term immigrant pass holders from India, Indonesia and the Philippines — neighbor countries that currently happen to be pandemic hot spots.
As of 12 p.m. on Sept. 1, Malaysia confirmed 9,354 cases, 9,075 recoveries and 128 deaths, making it one of the world’s strongest nations to contain the disease.
— KKMalaysia🇲🇾 (@KKMPutrajaya) September 2, 2020
Just two days earlier, however, the country reported 17 new cases, 15 of which came overseas. Health officials are bracing for a surge in imported infections in response to case increases in countries entering the winter months, the Straits Times reported.
The entry ban on India, Indonesia and the Philippines is a precautionary measure consistent with curtailing imported cases. It starts on Sept. 7 and applies to permanent residents, expatriates, students and individuals on spouse visas and participants of a program called My Second Home.
Malaysia refers to its COVID-19 cordon sanitaire as the Movement Control Order (MCO) and has put it in effect since March 18.
“The decision was made on the advice of the health ministry to clamp down on the spread of imported COVID-19 cases,” senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said, according to Reuters.
India, currently the third most-affected country after the U.S. and Brazil, has the world’s fastest-growing outbreak, reporting more than 75,000 cases every day. Indonesia has the highest death toll in Southeast Asia, while the Philippines has the highest number of cases in the region.
“We have asked the Health Ministry to make detailed planning on how Malaysia should face threats and challenges in view of the possibility of an increase in cases during winter,” Ismail Sabri said, according to The Star. “We have started tightening border controls by not allowing people from the three countries to enter.”
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