BEIJING - For Malaysians returning to China for work after the Lunar New Year break, festive cookies share space in their baggage with medical supply to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Unlike previous years when they would bring back their favourite Chinese New Year goodies in bulk, this time their bags were stuffed with face masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, alcohol swabs, antiseptic disinfectants and safety goggles.
Some even brought back sanitisers with high alcohol content, only to find this inflammable item forbidden on board the flight.
Most Chinese cities officially started work on Monday after a two-week respite, which included the week-long Spring Festival holiday.
Operations director Asthy Tan and her husband flew from Malaysia to the Chinese capital with four pieces of baggage.
"We have 10 boxes of disposable masks, three boxes each of N95 masks and gloves and 25 bottles of sanitisers in various sizes.
"Some of them are for our friends," she said.
To prepare for her 14-day quarantine at home, Tan, 40, also brought back an assortment of biscuits, packets of cooking pastes, bee hoon and her favourite instant teh tarik.
Film director Michael Wong took an extra step in protecting his family from the disease.
As soon as they boarded the plane, they wiped their seats, arm rests and trays with disinfectant.
"Luckily, no one complained," Wong, 48, said.
In preparation for the two-week quarantine, his house has now become a mini store and pharmacy with 500 sachets of Malaysian coffee, six containers of biscuits, a variety of pastries and 10 boxes of surgical masks, gloves, alcohol swabs and sanitisers.
"It's a whole new experience for me this time even though I went through the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003.
"I had just got married then but now I have two children and three cats.
"The responsibility has grown so I have to be extra careful," he said.
Scheduled to fly from Sabah on Feb 16, project manager Arthur Pang has decided to leave behind bulky and heavy clothing like jeans to make room for medical supplies and food stuff.
"I bought a lot without realising that my bags were already full," said the 46-year-old.
Pang said he would be bringing over 100 pieces of masks, 500 pieces of alcohol swabs, 200 latex gloves, a thermometer, a few bottles of cod liver oil and Vitamin C.
"I am also going to stuff my luggage with instant noodles, beverages and canned food like sardines and curry chicken, " he added.
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