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China envoy says East Malaysia travel ban regrettable, hopes for reversal

China Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian hoped the state governments would review the decision, adding that trade and other commercial activities should not be disrupted — Picture Yusof Mat Isa. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 31, 2020, Malay Mail. China’s ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian said he was saddened by Sabah and Sarawak’s move to ban all flights from his country due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, Malay Mail reported.

In a press conference at the Primary Industries Ministry here, Bai Tian hoped the state governments would review the decision, adding that trade and other commercial activities should not be disrupted, especially when China is already facing difficulties in addressing the outbreak.

“I am very sad to hear about this decision by the Sabah government. I think this decision needs a second thought, because I think any decision made by any government or organisation in this connection, has to be based on very solid foundation.

“And so I hope in a difficult situation like this, the normal flow of people and including the trade, commercial activities, should not be affected between China and Malaysia, including Sabah of course,” he said.

The Sarawak government yesterday bared Chinese nationals studying in the state from returning after their Chinese New Year holidays in their home country.

The state disaster management committee secretariat said the indefinite ban was among the measures being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It said those who have visited China recently should self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days or seek medical consultation at the nearest government hospital if they develop symptoms such as coughing and fever.

Sabah also suspended all scheduled and chartered flights from China.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the decision was in the public’s interest and was only temporary. Flights may resume once the situation is contained.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously said there was not yet need for the federal government to impose a similar ban.

Sabah and Sarawak have autonomy over immigration in their territory.

This morning, the World Health Organisation declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, in move meant to elevate governmental response towards the virus.

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