Continuing from Part 1, we were indeed getting closer to our homes but first, we had to go through the hurdles of COVID19 testing and the mandatory quarantine. It will take time indeed but at least we have set our legs in Malaysia.
The flight from Singapore Changi Airport to KLIA was a short one – barely an hour which was a blessing sort of after the long transit at Changi. We all were looking forward to running through the COVID19 test at the airport, then reach our quarantine hotel, throw our luggage down, take a good hot shower and go to sleep.
Once we had landed, we remained at our seats expecting the MOH officials to come onboard like how it happened in Changi to make announcements and then to escort us to the medical check-up stations in the airport. However, this did not happen. But instead, everyone just got up and took out their luggage and headed out towards the immigration counters where the COVID19 swab test areas have been set up.
All ready to do the swab test – these are truly the national heroes of the country at times of major pandemic. Image source: Ministry of Health
Everyone had to go through the same single line in this area so the queue was quite long. We were handed over a registration form for quarantine and were reminded to install the MySejahtera app. Some foreigners seemed clueless on this app which is now mandatory for all who come into the country.
Obviously, they did not do their homework and plainly ignored the strict conditions imposed by the Government. In the end, some of the airport and MOH staff assisted them to install and register in the app. Our 14 days quarantine effectively started the moment we have registered and scanned the QR code that has been placed along the path of the queue.
Payment counter however is handled manually in the sense of issuing receipts. A laptop and a printer would have gone a long way to help these brave front liners to issue the receipts and get the passengers onto the next medical station. Image source: Ministry of Health
We then moved to the MOH registration counter where our details were taken down again and cross-checked with our passports and other documents. We were then asked for some questions and once they are satisfied, we were issued with a slip for us to bring over to the payment counter.
Once we have done this, we then pass to the payment counters for the COVID19 test payments which can be made via cash, credit card or online transfer. There were several payment counters opened but the queue moved rather slow as it took some time for the staff behind the counters to write down of our passport details, collect the payment and then prepare the receipt. Receipts were issued manually which left me wondering why they cannot set a laptop to register and a cheap printer to print out the receipts.
Once payments made, we moved to the next station where we were asked to wait for our turn for the nose and throat swab test. There were a few test areas in place and the test duration was short. So we did not have to wait for long for the test. By now, I have done 3 nose and throat swab tests since the Cambodian project commenced – one in Malaysia and two in Cambodia. I hoped that this would be my final swab test for this project. Despite being used to swab test, it was painful nonetheless and not comfortable. Not a good experience indeed.
Image source: Ministry of Health
Once done, we moved on to the immigration counter where we finally get our passport stamped and approvals checked. The funny part of this process was that after all the wait for immigration approval for us to re-enter the country, the officer behind the counter smiled, pushed aside our letters and just stamped the passport.
We then were given another form to be filled up, repeating almost the same information and asked to wait for the next stage. Forewarned that the whole COVID19 screening process at the airport will take hours and there will not anything to eat, we had expected to be hungry till we reach our quarantine centre.
However once again, the good nature of Malaysian Hospitality stepped in and we found ourselves being offered a pack which consists of mineral water, muffin, biscuits and fruit juice. This simple gesture was greatly appreciated.
We were then escorted to grab our luggage from a dedicated place before escorted again to the exit of the airport for our quarantine. Until this point, we still did not know where we will be placed for the next 14 days under quarantine.
Personally, we were praying not to be placed in quarantine in some hotels given the recent bad comments and lack of facilities on social media. Some of the other passengers asked on the details of the quarantine hotel but they did not get any clear answers – I guess this is to avoid the passengers insisting to change to different hotels and waste everyone’s time.
Our luggage was all taken by the staff in full PPE towards the bus that was waiting for us just outside the exit and a man with a chemical backpack, sprayed on the luggage before it was placed into the luggage space of the bus. No business of the passengers getting the luggage into the bus ourselves. We were then asked to board the bus but we still need to keep our social distancing even inside the bus. We were asked to occupy one of the two seats available. The bus started to move but it made one round and came back to the airport as there were still passengers to be boarded.
We then finally move and halfway the journey to the quarantine centre, the officer on the bus then finally announced the name of the hotel that we will be staying in quarantine for the next 14 days.
To be continued in Part 3