Penang informs fed govt it is not accepting medical tourists for now
GEORGE TOWN: Penang has written to the federal government to inform them of its decision not to accept medical tourists for the time being, following active Covid-19 cases in the state.
State Tourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the state government had also informed the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) of its stand on the matter.
“MHTC says they respected the Penang government’s decision not to accept any medical tourists for now.
“MHTC also says that it will alert all its members, particularly the hospitals concerned, about the state’s decision,” he said after a technical meeting chaired by State Secretary Datuk Abdul Razak Jaafar on the entry of Indonesian medical tourists.
The meeting was also attended by state Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib, state National Security Council director Nazrul Fazami Mohamad, representative from the state Immigration Department, MHTC, Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd, district officers and the Civil Defence Force as the secretariat.
On Sunday night, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang would no longer grant permission or receive patients under medical tourism following active Covid-19 cases in the state.
This came hours after he confirmed that the state received its first medical charter flight from Indonesia last Friday.
Following the report, the state came under intense fire from various quarters.
After chairing an emergency meeting on the matter yesterday, Chow expressed regret that the state was not told of the arrival of three Indonesian patients.
The three patients — two of whom had cancer and another who needed immediate medical care — had fully complied with the standard operating procedure (SOP) set by the federal government, including the Immigration Department and MHTC.
Chow had said that it was compulsory for all agencies involved in the medical tourism sector to keep the state in the loop from now on.
This afternoon, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said state governments were not allowed to impose their own regulations on social and business activities as it would supersede the federal government following Penang’s decision not to accept medical tourists into the state for now.