PETALING JAYA: Malaysians returning from India and undergoing Covid-19 quarantine at Hotel Istana since May 13 claimed they were harassed by government officials on Friday night.
It is understood that they were under isolation at the hotel having arrived from India via a Malindo charter flight on May 13.
“We were told we had to undergo a 14-day quarantine when we left, but that changed after arrival. They said people coming from India had to quarantine for 21 days,” businessman Dhana Balan, one of those quarantined at the hotel, told FMT.
He said a letter was sent to the health ministry requesting for them to self-quarantine at home for the extra seven days, but was denied.
After 14 days on Friday night, he said some guests were rudely awoken by government officials in PPE demanding they pay for seven more days at the hotel despite being told they would only have to pay when checking out.
“They stormed into people’s rooms in medical gowns and had no name badges. We didn’t know who they were with. One of them said they were with the health ministry, but they would not identify themselves.”
Dhana said guests who faced the alleged harassment were told that if they did not come up with the necessary payment, they would be sent immediately to a government quarantine facility.
He said that these officials entered the rooms of some guests and tossed their belongings into the hallway.
K Kaarthik, who was also being quarantined, was threatened with police action when he refused to leave.
According to a news report, other guests too faced similar harassment, with some being threatened with police action.
In response, Hotel Istana guest services manager Karen Subramaniam told FMT that they were forced to refer the matter to the health ministry when some of them were unable to pay for the additional seven days.
“Some said they were entitled for the B40 rates while others said they cannot afford the sum. The additional amount comes to about RM1,000. So our duty is to send them to a government quarantine centre under these circumstances,” she said.
Karen said when the officials from the ministry arrived, they were the ones who went up as they had their PPE on, adding that hotel staff did not know what transpired up in the rooms.
“We are trained to be polite when dealing with guests. What went on up there as claimed is beyond our control.”
Karen said eventually all the guests managed to raise funds to settle the payment with the help of their friends and relatives.
Klang MP Charles Santiago lashed out at the officers who treated them in such a harsh manner, when the fault was on the authorities for the additional seven days of quarantine.
“The team carrying out the mercy flight told them in India that the quarantine will be 14 days. But it changed to 21 days only after their arrival and these returnees were not prepared,” he said.
“The hotel and the ministry owes these guests who are still there an apology.”