KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s decision to delay the declaration of the Covid-19 endemic phase under the National Recovery Plan (NRP) may be unpopular, but a necessary precaution due to the Omicron variant, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
The Defence Minister said he agreed with the decision, as it is important for the overall safety and health of the public.
Hishammuddin said that Malaysia was not "late" in implementing the endemic phase, even though all states in the country were under phase four of the NRP.
"We are observing the situation in certain countries that are worrying. The United States saw a million new Covid-19 cases two weeks ago, and over 500,000 daily cases now.
"In Australia, despite being in constant lockdown, they recorded 60,000 new Covid-19 cases a day," he said, adding that those who contracted the virus were high groups with underlying health conditions and senior citizens.
He said to reporters during a working visit to the Armed Forces Joint Task Force in Tawau Friday (Jan 14).
He said that a large number of Omicron cases would put pressure on hospitals and intensive care unit beds in Malaysia.
Reiterating there will be no more major lockdowns in the country, Hishammuddin said the borders should be reopened slowly and gradually.
"It should not be opened immediately," he added.
On the endemic phase, he said there will be standard operating procedures (SOP), and it will be announced soon.