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Johor expecting more Malaysians to return home from Singapore

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Johor braced for influx after Singapore announces new work restrictions

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Immigration Department is expecting more Malaysians currently staying in Singapore to return home after the Republic announced significantly stricter measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic, The Star reported.

The department's director Baharuddin Tahir said they were prepared for the expected influx at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at the Causeway and Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar at the Second Link.

"The department is expecting to see a high number of Malaysians returning home between April 1 and 14 compared to March 18 to 31," he said. "This is due to several restrictions faced by Malaysians working across the Causeway," he said.

Malaysia yesterday reported 179 new coronavirus cases, raising its total to 3,662 cases.

The new cases include four deaths, raising the tally to 61 people who have died as of noon yesterday, the health ministry said.

Last week, Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir had urged the government to let Malaysians in Singapore return, following the republic's announcement.

An estimated 300,000 Malaysians commuted from Johor daily to work in Singapore before the pandemic.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last Friday that most workplaces will be closed from tomorrow as part of measures to pre-empt an escalation in coronavirus infections.

Malaysiakini reported on Saturday that Malaysia will waive the 14-day quarantine requirement for its workers returning from Singapore, provided they test negative for the coronavirus.

"Malaysians working in Singapore who wish to return to Malaysia during (Malaysia's) movement control order (MCO) period are required to get a swab test in Singapore and present a letter or certificate to confirm he or she is free of Covid-19 at the entry point before being allowed to enter.

"They will not need to be quarantined if they are confirmed to be negative," said immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud in a letter addressed to the Johor Immigration Department seen by Malaysiakini.

The MCO, which is in force until April 14 to contain the pandemic, requires all Malaysians returning from abroad to be isolated for 14 days.

The Johor government has gazetted 54 quarantine centres throughout the state as part of its preparation to contain the outbreak.

State health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said 14 centres had already started operations.

"If required, the state government will identify other facilities which can be used as quarantine centres, including hotels and privately owned buildings that are appropriate," he added.

Meanwhile, Indonesia ordered its citizens to wear cloth face masks when going outside as the number of infections rose to 2,273 yesterday, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said. The country reported 181 new cases yesterday, while the death toll rose by 7 to 198, Reuters reported.