CORONAVIRUS/Sarawak removes Taiwan from travel ban

03/03/2020 09:04 PM
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Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak (Image taken from the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board website)
Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak (Image taken from the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board website)

Taipei, March 3 (CNA) The Malaysian state of Sarawak agreed to remove Taiwan from its travel restrictions after the Taiwan representative office in Malaysia requested a correction in its policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

Sarawak's State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) approved Tuesday the corrections of its COVID-19 coronavirus prevention policies, which include removing Taiwan from its travel restrictions, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.

"Sarawak has now separated Taiwan from China's epidemic area, which includes Hong Kong and Macau," Ou said, adding that the new guideline is effective immediately.

However, Ou, citing a Sarawak SDMC statement dated March 3, added that travelers from Taiwan have to undergo the same precautionary measures issued by Sarawak's health department to travelers from COVID-19-affected areas such as Singapore, Italy, Iran and Japan.

The precautionary measures include measuring travelers' temperature, inquiring about their travel history and asking them to fill out a declaration of good health, as well as providing their address and contact details.

The development came after the MOFA's efforts to persuade Sarawak, through its representative office in Malaysia, to correct its practical inclusion of Taiwan into its travel restrictions imposed on China, after a group of Taiwanese educators were denied entry to Sarawak last Saturday.

The Sarawak government announced Feb. 1 that foreign nationals who had been to China over the past 14 days prior to their arrival would be refused entry.

Although Taiwan was not directly mentioned in that particular order, around 60 Taiwanese educators who arrived at Sarawak's Miri airport on Feb. 28 were denied entry and sent back to Kuala Lumpur, where they came from.

The Taiwanese group were able to enter Kuala Lumpur but not Miri, because the federal government of Malaysia does not ban travelers from Taiwan, but the immigration authorities in Sarawak are independent from the Malaysian federal government and has its own regulations.

(By Emerson Lim)

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