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Malaysia assisting 13 citizens stranded at Manila airport over vaccine certificate

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is providing assistance to 13 citizens stranded at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport after being refused entry into the Philippines over their vaccine records.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah retweeted a ministry post which said that the Malaysian Embassy in Manila is on the ground to help the stranded Malaysians.

“@MalaysiaMFA (Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry) is also liaising with related agencies to facilitate this process,” he added.

The 13 Malaysians and two other foreigners were stranded since Sunday after arriving on the 8.30am flight from Kuala Lumpur, according to The Star.

The Philippine immigration had denied them entry as their digital vaccination certificates were not recognised by the Philippine authorities.

One of the stranded Malaysians said they were informed that their digital vaccination certificates on MySejahtera, Malaysia’s national tracing app, were not an acceptable proof of vaccination.

A masked passenger arrives at Manila’s International Airport, Philippines. PHOTO: AP

The traveller added that other passengers on the same flight, who were vaccinated in Singapore or the United Kingdom, were granted access into the Philippines.

The Malaysian said they were told by the Philippine immigration authorities that they needed to be vaccinated in another country, such as Singapore, or possess the World Health Organization’s International Certificate of Vaccination.

“Our passports have been confiscated, and we were told that we would be deported,” The Star quoted the unnamed traveller as saying on Sunday.

“As there are no hotels available, we are being made to sleep on benches or the floor,” the passenger added.

The 15 had intended to travel to the Philippines for business, personal and humanitarian reasons.

The Philippines reopened its borders to fully-vaccinated tourists last Thursday, after a two-year ban to combat local COVID-19 infections.

According to statistics on the website of the Philippines’ Department of Tourism, tourism industry earnings had dived 82 per cent at the height of the pandemic. Tourist arrivals fell from 8.26 million in 2019 to 1.48 million in 2020.