PETALING JAYA: The suspension of all umrah trips beginning Jan 8 is in force for a month, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.
He said that a domestic and international risk assessment, especially on Saudi Arabia, will be carried out from time to time before umrah trips are allowed to resume.
Umrah standard operating procedures (SOPs) will also be revised, including making it mandatory for umrah pilgrims to take booster shots before travelling to Saudi Arabia, said Khairy.
The authorities would also conduct case management and contact tracing in Saudi Arabia as well as monitor the health conditions of Malaysian pilgrims.
Khairy added that travel agencies would be given more responsibility to ensure adherence to umrah SOPs by pilgrims.
“Travel agencies will also have to report positive cases and close contacts to the Health Ministry,” he said.
Fears over the high number of Covid-19 cases and Omicron variant detected among umrah returnees led the government to impose a temporary ban on umrah activities starting Jan 8.
Meanwhile, pilgrims who have just returned from umrah must also undergo quarantine at designated hotels or government-run quarantine centres.