KUCHING: Sarawak and Sabahan students who are still in Peninsular Malaysia would have to wait a little longer before they are allowed to return home during this Covid-19 pandemic.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the cabinet had received a proposal from the Higher Education Ministry with regard to sending home these students during the prolonged Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
He told a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday that the Ministry of Health was reviewing the proposal in order to decide whether these students should be allowed to return home or they should stay put, during the third phase of the MCO, to deter possible transmission of the virus to their communities.
“There are 80,000 students living in accommodations provided by private and public institutions of higher learning, and this figure does not include those students renting outside, but with the same needs of the students staying in campus.
“We need to review the situation as it involves a big movement of students.
“The number also includes those who want to return to Sabah and Sarawak who, of course, need to undergo compulsory quarantine upon returning,” he said.
Ismail Sabri was responding to a question on whether or not the government would allow these students to return home, following news report that Higher Education Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad would bring up the matter to the Special Ministerial Meeting on Covid-19.
This followed the announcement by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday, about the MCO being extended to April 28.
According to Ismail Sabri, allowing these students to return could cause problems to their respective neighbourhoods.
“The Health Ministry has noticed that the number of new Covid-19 cases is trending downwards, and we do not want to jeopardise this, and put all our efforts of asking people to stay at home to break the chain of infection to be wasted,” he said.
As for students abroad, Ismail Sabri reiterated the government’s position that they should stay where they were – if possible.
Meanwhile at a separate press conference yesterday, Ministry of Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the proposal by Higher Education Ministry would have to be reviewed first.
“Please be patient. We need to see what is the data (of cases) in the next one or two weeks. After that, we will advise on what needs to be done,” he said.