After months of not being able to operate due to nationwide lockdown, flights of select local and international airlines have resumed operations while strictly implementing health protocols prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH). And ever since they first resumed on July 8, flights to and from the Philippines have more or less gone smoothly—up until the COVID-19 cases in the country started to dramatically increase.
Because of the rising cases, the Malaysian government has ordered a travel ban for travelers from the Philippines, India, and Indonesia. The ban, effective today, September 7, will affect those with “long-term passes” and even those who have a permanent resident status. (Read: 5 Prayers for Safe Travel)
“We have asked the Health Ministry to make detailed planning on how Malaysia should face threats and challenges in view of the possibility of an increase in cases during winter… We have started tightening border controls by not allowing people from the 3 countries to enter,” Malaysia Senior Defense Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.
Even foreign students with valid student visas and holders of spousal visas are covered by the said ban.
Rising COVID-19 Cases
The ban comes after the Philippines was reported to have the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia at 237,365. Indonesia comes second in the region with 194,105 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while India is now the country with the fastest outbreak—the South Asian country reports around 75,000 cases daily.
Malaysia isn’t the first country to impose travel restrictions on travelers from the Philippines. In August, Taiwan has announced that those flying from the Philippines will have to get tested and quarantined for a 14-day period, as some confirmed cases in Taiwan were individuals who traveled from the Philippines.