Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Malaysia continues to enforce COVID-19 measures as of July 21. Arrivals to quarantine at designated facilities from July 24.

  • Alert Begins: 21 Jul 2020 11:04 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 10 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, entry bans, quarantine measures

Summary
Malaysian authorities continue to enforce measures to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of July 21. Officials announced that arrivals would have to undergo quarantine at designated facilities from July 24. These travelers will also have to download the MySejahtera mobile app. The government also plans to allow medical tourists from Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea to re-enter Malaysia, though the start of the measure remains unclear. Most foreigners are not able to enter the country as of July 21; exemptions are currently in place for resident diplomats, foreign spouses and dependents of Malaysian citizens, and expatriate employees working in essential industries and their dependents. The expatriate employees will need to present a letter from their employer and obtain approval from authorities.

Malaysian nationals remain banned from traveling abroad as of July 21. Malaysian and Singaporean authorities plan to allow limited cross-border travel for some groups of people from Aug. 10. Emergency repatriation of Malaysian citizens stranded abroad has occurred on a case-by-case basis. Officials announced July 14 that foreigners based in Malaysia who travel overseas would not be allowed re-entry into the country until further notice.

At the domestic level, the government continues to ease measures as of July 21; however, some controls will remain in place through the recovery movement control order (RMCO) through at least Aug. 31. Interstate travel has resumed under RMCO, though the ban will continue for residents of localities implementing more stringent restrictions due to increased COVID-19 activity. Officials are allowing additional businesses and public places, including hair salons and museums, to reopen. The central government has allowed day and night markets and noncontact sports to resume. Essential businesses, including convenience stores, restaurants, and supermarkets, continue to operate. Entertainment venues, such as karaoke centers and night clubs, remain closed. Activities where social distancing is challenging to implement, like contact sports and mass social gatherings, remain barred.

The central government has allowed additional selected religious facilities to reopen with distancing protocols, exclusively for Malaysian citizens. Authorities are allowing public transport to operate at full capacity, albeit while requiring passengers to undergo temperature checks and wear face masks. Officials are no longer limiting operating hours for e-hailing services, taxis, and express buses. Furthermore, while the government still requires private vehicles to adhere to passenger limits, it is allowing vehicles to carry non-household members.

Several state governments are maintaining additional business or social distancing restrictions on top of measures mandated in RMCO. Officials in several states, including Johor, Perak, and Selangor, are reopening day and night markets in stages. Authorities in Malacca State have banned hair salons and night markets from resuming operations. Selangor is allowing food establishment to operate 0700-2200. Businesses in Pahang State can operate 0700-2130, with exemptions for companies that offer essential services like medical clinics and petrol stations.

Officials earlier announced that foreign workers would be required to undergo testing for COVID-19 nationwide. The policy affects low- to semi-skilled employees in construction, food and beverage, manufacturing, and other sectors and requires employers to pay for the cost of testing.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official health and safety measures. Ensure contingency plans account for additional disruptive measures or further extensions of current restrictions. Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official instructions, particularly if traveling from affected locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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