Citizens and residents are advised to delay travel plans to a total of 18 countries currently battling outbreaks of the Omicron variant.
On December 28, 2021, Malaysia has decided to lift the temporary travel ban that had been placed on eight countries suspected to have the Omicron variant. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced that South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi are no longer banned, but rather are now classified as high-risk.
“As the Omicron variant is from many source countries, hence, the temporary travel ban will now be lifted and cases in South African countries were also reportedly declining.
“These countries are now listed as high-risk countries along another 10 countries namely the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, France, Denmark, India, Canada, and Nigeria,” he said in a press conference two days ago.
He inferred that travellers from all 18 countries mentioned are required to be fitted with a digital device upon arrival into the country that will track the duration of their quarantine period. He also advised both citizens and residents to delay any travel to all the above countries until further notice.
“If possible, avoid unnecessary travel to these 18 countries because it is very risky and dangerous; wait until the situation stabilises.”
The Health Minister has also strongly advised people celebrating New Year’s Eve together to get tested before and after all events.
“Even though it is a private event, like a Christmas celebration, be it to celebrate with friends at hotel or restaurant, please do a self-test if you are meeting someone from different households.
“So far, the Melaka and Sarawak state elections, as well as the Christmas celebration have not caused a surge in cases because a majority of the people complied with the standard operating procedures.
“So, continue to comply with the public health measure, and test before a celebration with people from other household. This is very important to control the spread of the Omicron. Omicron is already here, we want to slow it down,” he said.
Gathering crucial data, the Institute for Medical Research had conducted PCR genotyping evaluations on 366 Covid-19 positive samples collected from returnees from abroad between 21 December to 25 December.
“Of the total, 306 samples were presumptive Omicron variant and we are now waiting for the whole-genome sequencing results,” Khairy added.
“After obtaining the results, we will announce the confirmed Omicron cases and update the list of high-risk countries.
“Currently, we are actively testing the close contacts of Omicron cases on the ground to contain the spread of this new variant.”
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