Mask up, follow Malaysia’s SOP even when abroad, says KJ

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin advises Malaysians travelling abroad to continue practising the standard operating procedures set by the National Security Council and the Malaysian health authorities.

That comes after a new variant of concern, Omicron, was detected recently, forcing the government to temporarily stop travellers from certain nations entering Malaysia.

“We advise Malaysians who want to travel abroad to be careful and adhere to the public safety steps that are adopted here,” said Khairy, during a press conference this afternoon.

“Although the rules in Europe are more relaxed, we advise that people follow our rules. If you want to go to Oxford Street or Harrods, wear a face mask.

“With this new variant, Malaysians are advised to step up with the wearing of face masks and maintain physical distancing.”

Khairy said the elderly and those with serious comorbidities were discouraged from travelling abroad and visiting congested areas.

Travellers from Malawi would now no longer be able to enter Malaysia for the time being due to the Omicron. That is in addition to several other African nations, including South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.

Those who had visited these nations within the last 14 days would also not be allowed to enter. Foreign students and workers from those nations would also not be allowed in.

Khairy said initial information showed that Omicron had “plenty of mutations” and spread faster than other variants.

“What we do not know till today is if it creates worse complications, risks (compared to other variants) and the effectiveness of the vaccine (against Omicron).”

Malaysian citizens, permanent residents or those with visa spouses returning to Malaysia from these nations would need to be quarantined for 14 days at quarantine stations, and carry out tests before coming into Malaysia, on the day they enter Malaysia, and 10 days upon their arrival.

Khairy said more nations could be added to the list, adding that the ministry would provide a daily update regarding the matter.

He also urged Malaysians to get their booster shots, adding that the number of shots would be increased from 120,000 to 150,000 daily and that this would be further increased in stages.

“These steps to tighten our nation’s borders are temporary until we find out more about the VOC.

“If the variant does not pose a threat to Malaysians, we will relax the border rules. We want to respond in a proportionate manner, as guided by WHO (the World Health Organisation).

He added, the government would avoid taking drastic steps, such as imposing lockdowns.

“The ministry is finalising a heightened alert system, which will be announced soon. If it (the number of cases) goes beyond the threshold value, then there will be some restrictions.”

Some fear the nation could see a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases by the middle of this month, following the Melaka elections held last month. Another state election, the Sarawak polls, is on Dec 18.