Abdul Karim speaks to reporters during his Chinese New Year visit to the residence of Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Chinese Associations president Datuk Richard Wee here on Sunday.

KUCHING: Sarawak will deliberate on exercising their immigration autonomy to block incoming tourists from China if the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) worsens.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that the state government will be closely monitoring the situation for the time being and hopes that it improves.

“I believe that we will do that (exercise the autonomy) if the situation worsens and becomes more chronic.

“But for the time being, I think that it is not needed as we don’t want to alarm the public,” he told reporters when met after his Chinese New Year visit to the residence of Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Chinese Associations president Datuk Richard Wee here on Sunday.

Abdul Karim said that the spread of the contagious virus is affecting the tourism industry and hoped that the spread is contained as it incites tension among the tourists and the

people.

Abdul Karim speaks to reporters during his Chinese New Year visit to the residence of Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Chinese Associations president Datuk Richard Wee here on Sunday.

“Recently, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hainan Airlines where the first flight from there is expected to be in April or March and I am supposed to go there next month for the main agreement to be signed.

“But that has been put on hold in view of the recent developments as we now see that the people want the Chinese tourists not to enter the country at this time and we are also not encouraging Malaysians to visit China. It has become a regional issue,” he said.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said that Sarawak will fortify its entry points in the midst of the spread of the virus.

“We have been warned nationwide on the spread of the (Wuhan) virus as there is already one suspected case (a carrier) in Sabah.

“We will be fortifying our entry points through the state health department (JKNS),” he said when met by reporters during his Chinese New Year visit to state legal counsel Datuk Seri JC Fong’s residence.