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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 28: The Ministry of Health (MOH) strongly advised Malaysians against unnecessary travel to 18 high-risk countries due to the spread of Omicron there.
Apart from the eight southern African countries that had been among the first to report the Omicron variant, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin pointed out that 10 more countries have been added to the list.
The countries are the United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), Australia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, France, Denmark, India, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
“The situation in these countries is very risky and dangerous. Please, if possible, avoid travel to these countries until the Covid-19 situation stabilises there,” he told a press conference at Putrajaya which was broadcast via MOH social media channels today.
The MOH, he added, has also lifted a temporary travel ban on travellers from the eight southern African countries, considering the greater spread of the Omicron variant worldwide.
However, travellers from these high-risk countries intending to travel to Malaysia must take a PCR test two days before departure and another test upon arrival.
“All travellers will also be given a digital tracker. Those who are fully vaccinated must serve seven days of quarantine while the unvaccinated must isolate for 10 days. They will also need to take self-tests every day during the quarantine and isolation period,” he said.
These measures, Khairy pointed out, also apply especially to Malaysians returning from pilgrimage (“umrah”) and who must also get Covid-19 booster shots prior to travel to Mecca.
“This is because many cases tested negative during pre-departure and even upon arrival but tested positive on the fifth day. This is something new we learned about Omicron which we have to be cautious about,” he said.
Khairy disclosed that the Institute for Medical Research (IMH) Malaysia have also detected 306 suspected Omicron cases out of 366 samples from travellers who tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival between Dec 21 and 25.
“We are still waiting for results from the whole genome sequencing to confirm,” he said, adding that Malaysia has reported only one confirmed case of local transmission so far which was identified in Sarawak. — DayakDaily