Covid-19: Govt to postpone entry of students, workers from countries listed as at high risk from Omicron

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will postpone the entry of international students and foreign workers from countries that are categorised as being at a high risk of Covid-19 Omicron variant infections, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said that 20 countries have reported Covid-19 cases involving the Omicron variant of concern as at Nov 30.

"The Health Ministry will prepare a list of countries recognised as being at a high risk of Omicron variant infections on a daily basis for distribution to relevant agencies," he said during a press conference on Wednesday (Dec 1).

It was earlier announced that Malaysians had been banned from travelling to seven countries, namely South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, following the emergence of the new Covid-19 strain.

Khairy said that Malawi had been added to the list as of Dec 1.

"The temporary travel restrictions are for non-Malaysian travellers from countries that have reported the transmission of Omicron, high-risk countries where Omicron transmission have occurred such as those listed or travellers who have a history of travel to those countries 14 days before arrival," he said.

However, there are no entry restrictions for Malaysians or those holding long-term passes such as those with permanent residency status, spouse visas, MM2H and residence passes.

However, he said they would be required to undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine regardless of their vaccination status.

"They will also need to undergo a RT-PCR test 72 hours before flying and after arriving at the international travel gates and on the 10th day of quarantine.

"A risk assessment will be conducted on the 14th day in quarantine and there will be an extension of the quarantine period if there are symptoms," he said.

He added that Malaysians who are planning to visit countries with reported Omicron transmission or high-risk countries will not be allowed to continue their journey.

He explained that as had taken into consideration if the Omicron variant cases were imported or community transmission cases before placing the countries on the travel restriction list.

Khairy added other factors were if there had been many transmissions over a short period and the vaccination rate of the country's population and added that this assessment would be conducted daily by the Health Ministry.

He also said that the government was deliberating if they should impose temporary travel restrictions on the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands and Australia following suspected community transmission reports involving the Omicron variant.

He said they would obtain more information on the status of cases in those countries and after completing a risk assessment.

"Those countries are being reviewed right now," he said.

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