Malaysian social media have reacted negatively to the impending return of Chinese visitors, with the public considering the possibilities of a revival of Covid-19 – fueled by potential new varieties – undermining the fragile economic recovery.
Since China abandoned its zero-Covid policy in December, the virus has spread throughout the country’s vast population, whose vaccination rates are inconsistent.
On Sunday, China will reopen its borders for the first time in three years, unleashing a mass exodus of its travel-starved citizens in time for the Lunar New Year.
Malaysia announced on Friday that it will check all incoming travelers for fever and test wastewater from planes arriving from China for COVID-19 as part of new steps to avoid an epidemic in response to China’s decision to relax its zero-tolerance COVID policy.
Minister Zaliha Mustafa stated in a statement that the Ministry of Health is implementing precautionary measures due to the possibility of an influx of coronavirus cases from overseas.
Malaysia follows the United States, India, Italy, and Japan in implementing additional steps in response to the outbreak of illnesses in China following Beijing’s unexpected move to lift COVID restrictions.
Zaliha stated that Malaysia will screen the body temperatures of all incoming travelers, including those from China, and those found to have fever or other symptoms will undergo COVID-19 testing.
She noted that the ministry will collect samples of wastewater from aircraft coming from China for COVID-19 and perform testing to detect the introduction of new strains.