Malaysia's Health and Transport ministries have issued a ban on all cruise ships coming into the country with immediate effect on Sunday, March 8, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The latest measures are in addition to travel restrictions implemented by Malaysian authorities on foreign travelers arriving from affected countries and regions.
As of Thursday, March 5, all individuals who have traveled or transited through Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna in Italy; Hokkaido in Japan; and Tehran, Qom, and Gilan in Iran, within the last 14 days prior to arrival will be refused entry into Malaysia. Similar restrictions remain in place for individuals traveling from Daegu and Cheongdo (South Korea) and travelers who had visited Hubei, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu provinces in China within 14 days prior to their arrival in Malaysia.
As of Monday, March 9, Malaysia's Ministry of Health (KKM) has confirmed at least 117 cases of the virus nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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