KUALA LUMPUR — The shortened three-day quarantine period for Cabinet ministers returning from official duties abroad could be expanded to foreign dignitaries, businessmen or even the public in the near future, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba tonight.
Speaking to news portal Malaysiakini, Adham explained that the move is designed to open the nation’s economy and drive investment to the domestic market.
“We start with ministers first because it is easy to make an order before we open it up to the public… maybe businesspersons.
“The reason the government is doing this is to make sure we can open up our economy.
“Normally we ask for a swab test for three days before departure plus seven days of quarantine in our country. So that’s three plus seven.
“If they don’t do a swab test before departure, they have to get a negative swab test at the international entry point and quarantine for 10 days.
“That’s why investors don’t come, foreign leaders don’t visit… and because of that investments don’t come in,” he said.
However, he further explained that foreign dignitaries and businessmen visiting the country would have to abide by strict regulations to minimise possible Covid-19 infection.
The same goes for members of the public in the future, provided they too follow strict regulations, as set by the government, said Dr Adham
Dr Adham then cited the fact that Malaysia lost RM2.4 billion a day during the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) in March of last year.
With the implementation of MCO 2.0 this year, Malaysia lost some RM600 million on a daily basis, said Dr Adham.
Dr Adham also cited Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s recent trip to Indonesia as an example.
“Why is it that Indonesia, despite having so many infections, still did not quarantine Muhyiddin? It’s because they want to open up the economy,” he said.
Currently. all incoming travellers to the country are required to undergo a 10-day quarantine period.
However, while Dr Adham supports the aforementioned period as it is based on empirical and scientific data, he further explained that the move is also meant to show how the country meant to regulate travel.
The 10-day quarantine period is based on clinical data, which Dr Adham said was valid. However, he said this was not all about science.
“This is not about science totally. This is about how we regulate who will go abroad.
“Abroad, they don’t have to quarantine, but they have to quarantine when they return. This is not fair,” he said.
In the same interview, Dr Adham sidestepped calls for him to resign, maintaining that he has to uphold his principles.
“That’s OK. That doesn’t matter. I have to go to the principles.
“Before, I can lock the country. Now, I can open the country. I have to do something good for our nation,” he said.