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Jakarta Post

Malaysia bars entry of Indonesian citizens, citing COVID-19 concerns

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, September 7, 2020   /   03:29 pm
Malaysia bars entry of Indonesian citizens, citing COVID-19 concerns People wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 shop in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, on Aug. 18. (REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng)

Indonesians, as well as citizens of several other countries, are being denied entry to Malaysia as of Monday, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

Foreign Ministry director for the protection of citizens and legal entities overseas Judha Nugraha said that according to the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, the travel ban was temporary.

“The Malaysian ambassador said this policy was temporary and would be reviewed every week,” Judha said in a statement on Friday.

In addition to Indonesians, Malaysia is banning the entry of citizens of the Philippines, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Bangladesh, France, Saudi Arabia and Italy, all of which are among the top 25 countries with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The Philippines and Indonesia have been the worst hit countries in Southeast Asia in gross terms, with 237,365 and 194,109 confirmed cases respectively as of Monday morning.

“We also urge all Indonesian citizens in the country not to travel abroad unless there is a very urgent need,” Judha said.

Malaysian Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the travel ban policy was to prevent COVID-19 cases from being imported into the country, which had confirmed 9,397 cases as of Monday morning.

“The special Cabinet committee is aware of the sudden spike in COVID-19 positive cases in certain countries,” Ismail said in a press conference on Sept. 1, as quoted by Malaysian daily The Star.

“We have asked the Health Ministry to make detailed plans about how Malaysia should face threats and challenges in view of the possibility of an increase in cases during the winter.”

Malaysia initially planned to impose the travel ban on citizens of India, Indonesia and the Philippines, before extending the list to citizens of other countries.

The restrictions will affect permanent residents, participants in the Malaysia My Second Home program, expatriates and professional visit pass holders, spouses of Malaysian citizens and students. All foreign tourists have been barred from the country since March.