by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA
The government is not planning to ban cruise or cargo ships from docking at any of the country’s ports in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said this was because each cruise ship passenger would undergo two rounds of health screening, undertaken by the government and ship operators before they would be disallowed to disembark.
Cargo ship crew in turn would be screened by Malaysian health officers who would board such ships to conduct the screening.
This decision was made because if a ban was imposed on cruise or cargo ships, it would adversely impact the tourism sector and the country’s economy, the minister explained.
“Before any cruise ship anchors in Malaysia, they will have to send us the list of passengers and undertake initial health screening. If any of their passengers exhibit symptoms relating to influenza or COVID-19, they will be quarantined and will not be allowed to disembark.
“Thermal scanners have also been placed at every entry point into the ports”, Loke told reporters after he made a working visit to the Boustead Cruise Centre Terminal here.
“So far, all passengers on board cruise and cargo ships which have anchored at ports across the country are healthy, and Malaysians do not need to worry or be afraid,” he said, explaining that any passenger found to have arrived from Wuhan city and Hubei province in China, would not be allowed entry.
Moreover, health screening would be first be undertaken at the ports where cruise ships operated from.
Malaysia was only a ‘calling port’ where cruise ships would anchor for a day or two, said Loke, adding that many cruise ships which have called at Malaysian ports, operated from Singapore where safety measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, in December last year.
COVID-19 is the official name for the coronavirus, as announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.
In reports yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said tests had been conducted on 550 close contacts and symptomatic cases at 18 public laboratories in the country, with only 18 confirmed positive for COVID-19. Of the 18 cases, three individuals have recovered completely.