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Home / Travel / Malaysia tightens border control, cuts medical tourism targets amid increasing COVID-19 outbreaks

Malaysia tightens border control, cuts medical tourism targets amid increasing COVID-19 outbreaks

The concerns regarding increasing local outbreaks of coronavirus, tracing back to visitors from overseas, have led Malaysia to tighten border control and cut medical tourism targets

travel Updated: Sep 18, 2020, 09:17 IST
Bloomberg | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz
Bloomberg | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz
Malaysia tightens border control, cuts medical tourism targets amid COVID-19
Malaysia tightens border control, cuts medical tourism targets amid COVID-19(Twitter/Amindzikri2)

Malaysia’s aim to attract medical tourists by focusing on curbing the coronavirus outbreak hit a roadblock as resurgences around the world limited its ability to reopen borders.

Hospitals in the country can expect to earn 800 million ringgit ($194 million) of revenue from medical tourists next year, compared with 500 million ringgit this year, according to the Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council. That’s far short of the 1.7 billion ringgit the industry earned in 2019 and its earlier 2020 target for 2 billion ringgit.

“We may not have a normal travel behavior pattern returning soon,” the council’s Chief Executive Officer Sherene Azli said in an interview. “Before this we thought that the borders, the pandemic will go earlier than expected, now we are thinking borders will not be relaxed even in mid-2021 or even at the end of 2021.”

Malaysia started allowing medical tourists from six countries including Singapore, Japan and Australia to enter from July. Since then the country has banned citizens of dozens of countries with more than 150,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, amid concern over local outbreaks that could be traced back to visitors from overseas.

The country expects to welcome fewer than 300,000 medical tourists in 2020, compared with 1.2 million last year, Sherene said.

Malaysia’s hospitals have resorted to offering online consultations to adapt, with plans to focus on improving services for cancer, heart diseases and fertility treatment during this slow period, she added.

“We feel that is a strong trust that we can build for Malaysia in terms of delivering world-class quality healthcare,” Sherene said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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