US advises citizens not to travel to Malaysia, and most of the world

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The US State Department has advised its citizens not to travel to Malaysia, compared to its previous advice to “reconsider travel” to the country.

It also notes Malaysia has imposed restrictions that would affect US citizens looking to travel to Malaysia, and kidnap-for-ransom groups are still a threat in eastern parts of Sabah.

The advisory was issued on Tuesday (April 20) as part of the department’s week-long exercise to update its travel advisories to bring them in line with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) separate set of travel advisories.

The CDC’s advisories are based on health considerations alone, whereas the State Department also accounts for other factors such as civil wars, terrorism, and criminal activity.

A State Department statement on April 19 said the update would classify about 80 percent of countries in the world as “Level 4: Do Not Travel”, which is its highest level of alert to would-be travellers.

“This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s travel advisory system to rely more on CDC’s existing epidemiological assessments,” it said.

In March last year, the State Department issued a blanket “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for all international travel but reverted to issuing a separate rating for each country in August.

This includes the “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” advisory for Malaysia that was in effect from August 17 last year until the recent update.

Prior to the pandemic, the US State Department merely advised its citizens to “Exercise Normal Precautions” while travelling to Malaysia – its lowest level advisory for travellers.

For context, the CDC’s Covid-19 travel advisory classifies Malaysia as “Level 4: Very High Level of Covid-19”, which is the agency’s highest-level advisory on the issue. The classification has been in place since at least Nov 21 last year.

More recently, the CDC updated its advisory on April 2 to include advice for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. – Malaysiakini