We propose that the Malaysian Immigration Department use a simple and effective screening system to ensure that arrivals at the points of entry to the country do not carry Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus
by Tan Seng Giaw
(Kuala Lumpur, Saturday): The Immigration Department released details of travel requirements for visitors from SARS-affected countries. Those from China, Taiwan and Vietnam have to apply for visas with medical reports. A medical report certifying a person free from SARS is valid only for seven days.Previously, travelers from Vietnam, which is a member of ASEAN, did not need visas if their stay in Malaysia was shorter than one month.
“This is only a temporary measure and will be lifted when the situation improves,” Shukri added.
The measure by Immigration is reasonable. However, this may not be sufficient to ensure that all medical certificates are genuine. Some travelers may resort to unscrupulous methods to obtain health certificates. Those who slip through the net will carry the virus into the country.
We believe that besides visas and medical certificates, Immigration must equip itself with a simple and effective screening system including electronic thermometer. Some personnel are using the gadget.
We propose that those who screen visitors from SARS-affected countries have a short briefing from doctors who are familiar with it, so that they are able to cope with the task. This can improve the prevention of SARS.
Malaysia should observe screening procedures adopted by Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada and others. Then, we can adapt them to suit the Malaysian conditions. Our doctors who man SARS wards have gone to Singapore to observe the treatment and prevention of the virus. Likewise, immigration personnel must learn from doctors the effective ways to screen visitors.
* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong