by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA
A total of 127 Malaysians in Iran and Italy are expected to be flown home within this week as the two countries have been severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar (picture) said of the total, 48 Malaysians were in Iran, including embassy staff and their dependents.
“In Italy, only 79 out of 323 Malaysians there have agreed to be repatriated. The others have been given 48 hours to make their decision whether to stay or to return home,” he told a press conference at Wisma Putra here today.
Kamaruddin said the repatriation of Malaysians who are in Iran and Italy, however, would depend on the ongoing discussions between the Malaysian authorities and their counterparts from the two countries.
“Nothing is technically final,” he said.
The deputy minister said Malaysian embassies in the two countries have also set up their own Emergency Response Team (ERT) to coordinate efforts to repatriate the Malaysian nationals with the cooperation from the relevant authorities.
When asked whether Malaysians who are in Spain and South Korea would also be repatriated, Kamaruddin did not rule out the possibility.
He also advised all Malaysians to postpone their trip to countries which have been badly affected by the COVID-10 pandemic, including the European countries.
“Malaysians are also advised to avoid participating in any mass gathering or large-scale event. They are also advised to observe personal hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government is working on bringing home Malaysians in Iran and Italy which have been severely hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.
For the record, the government has so far brought back Malaysians from the Hubei province of China in two batches on Feb 4 and 26. Up to 107 of them were brought back in the first batch and 66 in the second. Wuhan City in Hubei was where the outbreak first occurred.