PUTRAJAYA: Wisma Putra will pay attention to the safety and welfare of Malaysians in countries badly affected by COVID-19 and continue to monitor the situation in countries facing a serious outbreak of the virus.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said one of the countries was Germany, whose government had issued a statement saying that probably 60 to 70 per cent of its people would be infected with COVID-19.
“I have directed our embassy to keep a close watch on the 2,218 Malaysians in Germany. We must take proactive measures in countries like Germany,” he told a press conference today.
He said Wisma Putra would also boost coordination with Italy and other countries where there are Malaysian citizens before any efforts to evacuate them could be carried out.
“Now it’s a question of coordinating bilaterally with Italy, that’s the task and responsibility of Wisma Putra here. That’s why (Deputy Foreign Minister) Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar will provide details of the latest developments, including discussions we have with the Italian government.
“Before we evacuate them, we need to forge cordial ties with the Italian government. The whole country is in lockdown. The last thing on their minds is how many Malaysians (are) in the country, but because of (our) special relationship, I’m sure we can ask them to give us some priority,” he said.
He said there were 380 Malaysians in Italy registered with the Malaysian Embassy there, apart from 35 civil servants and their families.
Hishammuddin also urged Malaysians in other countries affected by COVID-19 to register with Malaysian embassies there so that it would be easier to extend appropriate consular assistance to those in need.
“It’s important for them to be responsible in informing our embassies and mission where they are and to be very honest as to where they have been. This is the problem, sometimes they do not reveal their travel plans until it is too late,” he said.
On the mission to evacuate the remaining Malaysians from Wuhan, China, Hishammuddin said Wisma Putra is in constant touch with the Hubei Foreign Affairs Office (Hubei FAO) to seek approval for the five Malaysians still stranded there to be allowed to fly home from the Changsha Airport in the Hunan Province.
“The five Malaysians still stranded have been confirmed to be free from COVID-19. Wisma Putra has also given their travel details to the Hubei FAO, including their car registration number, driver information as well as the routes they will take. Wisma Putra is still awaiting a reply from the China Government and the Hubei FAO is doing all it can to help us,” he said.
In another development, Hishammuddin said he had been informed of the latest development in the cooperation between the Johor state government and Singapore government to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak in Johor and Singapore.
Hishammuddin, who was briefed on the matter by Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohamad via telephone earlier, said the cooperation was vital as many Malaysians and Singaporeans commute between Johor and Singapore daily.
“Singapore and Johor became serious about cooperating after my telephone conversation with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan two days ago.
“I was told that Datuk Hasni has directed state Health executive councillor R. Vidyanathan to work closely with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba on any appropriate measures to ensure that assistance is provided to Malaysians, especially, during this crisis,” he said.