Wuhan coronavirus: All flights from China to Sabah suspended as state govt imposes travel ban


A plane leaving Kota Kinabalu International Airport. File Photo

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state government has decided to temporarily suspend all scheduled and chartered flights from China to Sabah with immediate effect until further notice in light of the latest Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the decision was made in the interest of the people’s welfare during the State Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (Jan 29).

She stressed that it was only a temporary suspension and business operations are expected to resume once the situation returns to normal.

“Although this suspension will have repercussions on the state’s tourism industry, the government is seriously looking at the health and welfare of Sabahans, and we want to
avoid the risk of exposing our people to any possible carriers of the novel 2019-nCoV (coronavirus) infection.

“This travel ban is a very difficult decision and may not be well-received by our tourism players. However, the state has to make sure we do not jeopardise the well-being of the people, given the uncertainty of how the coronavirus epidemic is developing,” Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said in a statement today.

According to her, the State Secretary’s Office will inform all the airlines operating the China-KK routes of the government’s decision.

“This means that all flights from China will be halted, and there will be no entry for all travellers from the various Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu during the suspension period.”

Liew noted that China’s government has already banned its citizens in Wuhan, Xi’an, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou from travelling abroad.

Meanwhile, the minister assured the public that the state government is closely monitoring the situation.

“The government is constantly being updated by the State Health Department. While there are no identified cases yet in Sabah, we all have to be alert and practise good personal hygiene habits. At the same time, we must keep ourselves abreast of correct information from reliable sources. And please refrain from spreading fake or unverified news,” she advised.