JOHOR BARU • Johor immigration has been told to strictly adhere to the federal government’s latest decision that Malaysian workers returning from Singapore must first show proof of being coronavirus-free.
In a note to the state’s immigration director, Immigration Department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said only those who had undergone the swab test in the Republic and certified free from the deadly disease would be exempted from the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine.
He said they must have documents to show that they had tested negative.
Several Malaysians returning from Singapore were caught off-guard when they were sent to a government quarantine centre in Johor Baru, with their medical certificates clearing them of Covid-19 symptoms rejected at the checkpoint.
More Malaysian workers are making their way back from Singapore after the Republic announced stricter measures last Friday to address the pandemic, with most workplaces being closed from Tuesday.
Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon said there was currently no requirement by his government to provide random Covid-19 tests for foreign workers.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health has said Covid-19 testing is performed when clinically indicated, for patients and their close contacts.
“There is currently no requirement by the Government of Singapore for foreigners exiting Singapore to be swabbed for non-clinical grounds,” the ministry said in response to media queries.
Kuala Lumpur does not impose a similar testing requirement on others entering Malaysia, such as via Kuala Lumpur International Airport, nor does it test foreign workers in the country before they return home.
Malaysia’s Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday that Malaysia is insisting that Singapore does the swab tests, while the Republic said this is not a requirement of the World Health Organisation.
“We are still not satisfied with this. So we are negotiating for our workers to remain in Singapore and for their food and lodging to be provided,” he told reporters. “But Singapore also cannot stop our citizens from returning.”
Among the returning Malaysians who were caught off-guard at the Johor Baru checkpoint was student Tan Jie Yang, 16, who said his travel back to Johor Baru on Monday was a “confusing experience”.
“We thought that we will be able to self-quarantine at home if we did not have Covid-19 symptoms and have documents indicating that we are fit to travel, but we were surprised when they told us that we had to be quarantined at a government centre,” he said.