KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6: Malaysia and Singapore need to streamline the SOPs before allowing cross-border travel to resume after being halted since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said both countries should have a mutual understanding and discuss how to mitigate or address the risks should there be any infections.
Noor Hisham said Malaysia needed to be selective in giving any leeway for fear it might lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases.
He said the time-frame for cross-border travel between the two nations is this month.
“We can implement it, but again, we looked at the situation, where we have seen the data that Singapore’s positive rate is at 8.20% (per 1,000 population) while Malaysia is at 0.91% … we have to decide on who to allow in.
“Not everyone in Singapore will be allowed in, it is a big ‘no’ to the working group of foreign workers in the country. Perhaps Singaporeans and expats living there for more than six months, they can come in,” he said during a webinar held by the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, themed “Malaysia: Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic”, yesterday.
Noor Hisham said Malaysia and Singapore also needed to look into the situation of both countries, and “if conducive for both, then we can do it”.
He also said discussions with countries like Brunei, Australia and New Zealand are ongoing.
“If one country is categorised as a red zone and one country a green zone, then it is difficult for the green zone to accept tourists from the red zone.
“We need to look into the situation from time to time. We do in stages for businesses, for example, where you can come in and apply, then we can allow (them in).
“In terms of mass tourism, we have not allowed it yet, but business ventures are allowed … we’ll quarantine you. There is a risk involved in cross-border, both countries need to refine the SOPs before implementing it,” he said.
Also taking part in the webinar were EuroCham Malaysia deputy chairman Luciano Pezzota and chief executive officer Sven Schneider.