PETALING JAYA, Aug 19 — Foreign students from west African countries are still allowed to enter Malaysia despite the rising number of Ebola cases being reported in those nations.
Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), a one-stop centre to handle the enrolment of foreign students in private universities and colleges, said it had not come across cases of students from West African countries whose application had been put on hold or rejected.
EMGS chief executive officer Mohd Yazid Abdul Hamid said all foreign students were screened in their countries of origin and their applications would only be processed once they obtained a clean bill of health.
“When students enter Malaysia, they are screened at our entry points just like everyone else. They also undergo a second medical screening as required by EMGS,” he said
“However, Ebola is not listed in part of our screening tests as it has to be treated differently.”
EMGS has received 6,500 applications from students in West African nations since last year. There have also been 3,500 renewals for west African students over the same period.
“We have active applications from students coming from the concerned region but we have not received any directive from the government to put these students on any waiting list,” Mohd Yazid said.
“We have received directives from the Health Ministry and we have notified all colleges about the virus. We have also informed the colleges to advise returning foreign students to get themselves screened if they develop any signs related to the virus.
“At this point we are focusing on the pre-entry medical tests as it’s all about prevention as we do not want those who have contacted the virus to leave their country.”
He said the agency had also not come across foreign students being stopped at Malaysian airports because of Ebola-related symptoms.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies Ebola as a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases.
The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.
According to WHO’s latest data, the death toll has risen to 1,145 in the four afflicted west African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The Health Ministry had said in a report that although the probability of Ebola spreading to Malaysia was quite low, it was not taking chances.
The ministry’s director of the disease control division, Dr Chong Chee Kheong, said healthcare personnel in Malaysia were trained and equipped to ensure they were prepared to manage any eventuality of Ebola breaking out in the country.