We are in a pandemic, ban medical tourism!

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is appalled by the news that the Penang state was going to allow medical tourism once more despite the increase in Covid-19 cases in Penang and the emergence of various Covid-19clusters in our neighbouring states.

It was reported that an Air Asia flight arrived last week, bringing medical tourists from Medan, Indonesia to Penang for treatment. This news is ironic considering Indonesia themselves has declared that there will be no foreign tourists allowed into the country in 2020 because of the alarmingly high number of positive Covid-19 cases that they have.

In our opinion, the move by Indonesia is the correct one. By closing their borders they are taking proactive measures to contain and eradicate the virus that is already within the country while ensuring that foreign tourists do not bring in the virus from the outside.

Following the news that the medical charter flight landed in Penang, netizens took to social media to express their concerns about the high number of cases in Indonesia and the risk of transmission within Penang. This is a legitimate concern, especially now that we have experienced the effects of the few Covid-19 clusters that formed in our neighbouring states.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, to his credit has taken the concerns of Penangites regarding this situation seriously. Just shortly after stating that medical tourists would be allowed in Penang if they followed the mandated SOPs, he went on to say that Penang would not be accepting medical tourists due to the emergence of Covid-19 in the state. However, he also stated that he would have to discuss this matter with relevant agencies and come to a final decision on the matter; indicating that no decision has been made yet (at the time of writing).

As such, CAP would like to state that we are strongly against medical tourism at this point in time, especially now that the Covid-19 virus is emerging in our country and the Penang state again. Malaysia, not just Penang, should not allow medical tourists to enter.


Press Statement, 17 August 2020