Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, Malaysia is to temporarily pause the issuing of visas to Chinese citizens in the affected Hubei province. The government confirmed in a recent report that new visas would not be approved for the foreseeable future whilst infection from the virus in the region remains a risk.
The policy has been implemented with immediate effect and at present no visas will be approved for applicants from Hubei. The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, stated in an announcement that these rules will remain in place until “the situation has returned to normal”.
This article looks at how this development could affect travel from China to Malaysia. It also focuses on what new rules have been implemented for Chinese tourists as well as any additional extra steps travelers should take before arriving in Malaysia.
Who Does This Policy Affect From China
Until recently Chinese tourists from across the country could visit Malaysia with an eNTRI for up to 15 days or an online visa for up to 30 days. However, since the outbreak of the virus, Malaysia has opted to halt the issuing of all new visas for Chinese travelers from Hubei.
Nevertheless, Chinese citizens from other parts of the country may still visit Malaysia and apply for visas to enter as normal. Furthermore, visitors from Hubei with previously confirmed visas can still travel to Malaysia until they expire.
The new measures affect visas issued to Chinese citizens in Hubei province for all purposes including:
Whilst the coronavirus remains a prevalent risk in the area around Hubei, most of the rest of China is still unaffected. Experts also expect it to remain less infectious than the more common influenza virus, which is also highly common at this time of year and shares many symptoms with the newer illness.
What New Travel Procedures Apply to Chinese Visitors to Malaysia?
At present, around 3 million Chinese citizens visit Malaysia each year and that is expected to increase in the future. It is a highly popular destination for Chinese tourists and for visitors traveling on business due to its proximity to Mainland China and its diverse economy.
Currently, the new travel restrictions only affect visa applicants from Hubei. However, all Chinese travelers moving around the world may be required to take extra steps on their journey. Following current WHO advice for governments, these could involve the following:
- Symptom screening at airports and other national ports of entry
- Screenings for the virus at regional train stations and bus stations
- Medical observation for those who’ve come into contact with the virus
The country’s national airline, Malaysia Airlines has already started implementing its action plan to prevent the spread of illnesses on its flights. This includes the issuing of face masks to its staff and passengers, isolation plans for those suspected of suffering from coronavirus symptoms, and body temperature screening at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Additionally, Chinese citizens and visitors traveling from Chinese points of origin should exercise the following precautions to help prevent the virus from spreading:
- Avoid contact with sufferers of the virus and areas where the illness is prevalent
- Steer clear of animal markets and other wildlife
- Carry and wear a face mask
- Delay travel if experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seek medical attention
- Make frequent use of hand sanitizer
- Keep up to date with news and the latest announcements regarding travel from national governments and airlines
Chinese visitors are still welcome in Malaysia and travel is still safe too and from most regions of China. However, travelers should remain mindful of the necessary precautions that the Malaysian government is currently taking.