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Following Covid-19 Outbreaks, Penang Closes Island To Medical Tourists

Following Covid-19 Outbreaks, Penang Closes Island To Medical Tourists

Penang is a key player in Malaysia’s medical tourism sector.

Akmal Hakim

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Penang prohibits the entry of medical tourists following Covid-19 outbreaks across the state.

Positive cases in the Penang were reportedly tied to Covid-19 clusters in Kedah, Perak, and Sabah.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that although situations in the state remained under control, authorities would consider tightening Covid-19 countermeasures like implementing a Targeted Enhanced Movement Control Order (TEMCO) in affected areas.

The Malaysian Health Ministry (MOH) recently reported 7 active Covid-19 cases in Penang.

The decision to close its borders to medical tourists also came after the state reportedly received 3 foreign patients from Medan, Indonesia arriving on an AirAsia charter flight on Friday, August 14, 2020.

Penang State Government said that all arriving patients were subjected to Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) upon entry.

However, curiously enough, the State Government mentioned that it had no idea of the incoming tourists from Indonesia until news of their arrival broke to the public.

Reportedly, news of the incoming visitors had caused a stir amid fears of imported infections from overseas.

Incoming travelers screened at KLIA.
(Noor Hisham Abdullah/Facebook)

A statement by AirAsia said that the company seeks to play a bigger role in Malaysia’s medical tourism industry and is working with government authorities and medical institutions on flying patients from Indonesia to Malaysia.

Supposedly, another medical charter flight from Jakarta was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur on August 24.

Malaysia’s medical tourism industry is said to be among the best in the world. According to the Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC), the country stands at par with other nations such as Singapore, India, Japan, Australia, and others in terms of providing top healthcare services.

In 2019, Malaysia’s medical tourism sector brought in 1.3 million foreign patients and recorded a revenue of RM1.7 billion.

Recently, Senior Minister (Defense) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Malaysia agreed to welcome medical tourists from Covid-19 “green zone” countries like Brunei, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to revive the nation’s healthcare tourism sector which has taken a hit following the pandemic.

Beach views at Batu Ferringh, Penang offers a relaxing healing experience for almost anyone.
(Kelvin Yup/Unsplash)

Penang sits as a key player in Malaysia’s medical tourism industry, advertised as an affordable healthcare destination offering a unique cultural, tropical island experience for travelers looking to heal their ailments.


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