Outbound travellers to pay for swab test

Izah Azahari

Several countries have recently begun to reduce travel restrictions and permit entry to authorised foreigners, under certain conditions.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar yesterday said that one of these conditions may require a negative result from a swab test.

“There has been an increase in public applications received by the Ministry of Health (MoH) for the COVID-19 swab test, with the purpose of going overseas for specific reasons, namely from those who have been granted permission from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to exit the country,” he said during a press conference at the MoH building.

The minister announced that the payment charges for the COVID-19 swab test among those granted permission to exit the country would be BND100 for citizens and permanent residents; and BND200 for non-citizens, including green identity cardholders.

Exempted from payment are students (citizens and permanent residents, scholarship and non-scholarship) who will be continuing their studies abroad; government officers on official matters; and those with special permission from the MoH.

In response to a question regarding the reasoning behind the charges and exemptions, the minister explained, “The charges for the swabs are not the real cost; that is already subsidised. Since these individuals wish to leave the country due to specific reasons, it is part of the requirements from other countries to obtain certificates or other forms of proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19.

“Charges will not be applied to those, including foreign workers, taking swab tests in this country with no intention of travelling abroad.”

Regarding the extended surveillance for primary school teachers, the minister said, “It is in the plan to carry out swab tests on 10 per cent of teachers for surveillance data, in schools at the primary level, including private schools.”