M'sia to test wastewater on all flights from China for Covid

Some Malaysian MPs have also asked the government to rethink its Covid preparedness stance as China resumes international travel.

Tan Min-Wei | December 30, 2022, 04:03 PM

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Malaysia's Minister of Health Zaliha Mustafa has announced a suite of measures regarding travellers arriving from China.

This comes amid China's shift in stance from zero-Covid to re-opening.

Wastewater testing for incoming aircraft

Zaliha said that Malaysian authorities would be testing wastewater samples from all flights from China, according to Bloomberg.

Samples will be sent to the National Public Health Laboratory, subjected to PCR testing, and if found positive, will be sent for genome sequencing to detect variant strains.

All incoming passengers, including those arriving from China, would also be screened for fever, although this is part of preexisting health protocols.

According to The Star, patients with Covid symptoms and who have travelled to China within the past 14 days would similarly be tested for Covid. Should the test return positive, a sample would also be sent for genome testing.

Stronger measures

The Star quotes former transport minister Wee Ka Siong as urging the government to go further.

He said while the return of Chinese tourists is welcome, the government should still relook its approach to incoming travellers arriving from China, in line with how European countries and the United States were.

For him it was imperative to do so before an expected influx of travellers when China lifts its travel restrictions in the upcoming weeks.

The Malay Mail also ran an op-ed from MP Kelvin Yii who, amongst other things, also asked the Malaysian government to consider requiring a negative covid test within 48 hours before travelling.

Yii referenced China's opening up as a reason to consider reintroducing tests, but his call was for incoming travellers from all countries to show a negative test result.

The world worries

Malaysia's worries are just the latest in a series of concerns voiced by other countries about  China's return to international travel.

As cases seem to be soaring in China, many countries are in two minds, on the one hand welcoming the return of a significant source of tourist revenue, but also bracing for the potential of increased cross border transmission.

Singapore's MOH, for its part, has said that it does not plan to change its current border control regime with regard to travellers arriving from China.

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