KUALA LUMPUR: Imposing travel bans on Chinese nationals from entering Malaysia amid the current Covid-19 outbreak does not work as it only creates a false sense of security among the people.
Universiti Malaya Health Systems and Policies senior fellow Dr Khor Swee Kheng said there was very little evidence to show that a travel ban was effective in eliminating the spread of a disease.
It only works to soothe panic and give the impression that the government was very responsive and listening to the demands of the public, he added.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not provide any support for travel bans because it is discriminatory. It might work for Wuhan, China, for example to slow down the transmission of the disease.
"In the evidence available to me now, there is two to three days of slowing down but there is no way you can eliminate it because it is already a self-sustaining human-to-human transmissions in many different countries.
"So this (a travel ban) could be a false sense of security for us rather than any meaningful efforts. (It will lead to people thinking) We have secured our borders, the impacted foreigners are not here, therefore we do not have to wash our hands, we do not have to vaccinate our children, we do not need to take care of own health," said Khor today.
Khor, who is attached to the Blavatnik School of Government in University of Oxford, said this during ‘The Science, Politics and Geopolitics of Coronavirus’ forum organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia.
He added that it may work from the arms race aspect where countries affected by Covid-19 are seen to emulate the stance of their counterparts.
"An arms race is why countries are increasingly using quarantines as a way to ensure the population that they (the government) are doing something, to appear responsive and gain legitimacy," added Khor.
On Saturday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzukefly Ahmad said Malaysia does not need to close its international borders to Chinese nationals.
He said this was because China had already barred citizens living in Covid-19 affected provinces namely Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu from travelling.
He said there was no need for Malaysia to do so based on the recommendations by the WHO and that China itself had imposed a lockdown on citizens at the three provinces.
Dzulkefly said more stringent screenings will be conducted on Chinese nationals.