PETALING JAYA: About 50 Malaysians who arrived from the United Kingdom (UK) were stranded at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) amidst confusion among the authorities and claims there were no hotel rooms to quarantine them in.
The passengers who arrived at about 6.30am on Monday (Sept 7) said that when they disembarked, they were stopped from getting to the immigration counters despite having approval letters from the High Commission of Malaysia in the UK.
Passenger Jolene Yap said there was confusion from the airline and immigration authorities as to whether Malaysians could actually be allowed entry into the country.
“At first, we were held back because the ground staff were not sure whether Malaysians were allowed entry under the new ruling.
“After hours of waiting (almost six hours), an officer from the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said that they could not find hotel rooms for us to be quarantined in.
“Then, he gave all of us numbers of hotels and told us that we should try to book our own hotel room.
“Despite all of us calling the same list of numbers, we were then told by the hotels – when we did manage to get through – that only Nadma can book rooms for quarantine and we cannot do it ourselves.
“We have been given the runaround and we are all tired from the long flight as it is,” said Yap who was very angry.
She said there were other groups as well in the same situation at KLIA.
At press time, Nadma Operations Head Datuk Hussein Omar Khan said some of the 200 have been moved to the quarantine stations while hotel rooms have been found for others.
“We had problems earlier as the number of quarantine hotels were less and there was a sudden influx of arrivals yesterday. Usually, 500 people arrive daily, but yesterday in view of the deadline, there were more than 1,000 arrivals. On top of that, in the morning, the hotels had to wait for their customers to check out first before these arrivals can be booked,”said Datuk Hussein when contacted.
As of Monday, the government has imposed a ban on citizens from 23 countries from entering Malaysia, including the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, Peru, Colombia, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iran, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom.
Also in the list are Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Iraq, Philippines and Indonesia.
On Sept 3, the government announced that it will impose an entry ban on citizens from countries recording more than 150,000 cases of Covid-19 starting Sept 7.
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government will add more countries deemed to be high-risk into the list, and their citizens will be barred from entering the country. -The Star