Covid-19: Health Ministry updates, relaxes SOPs following decline in cases

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has updated the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Covid-19, including reducing the number of quarantine days, effective July 5.

This comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 as no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) along with declining local cases, says Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa (pic).

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"Following the statement made by WHO on May 5, we have reviewed and updated the SOP based on assessment of the current Covid-19 infection situation here.

"Over the last five weeks, the number of new Covid-19 cases has shown a decrease of 53.5% (5,801 cases to 2,698 cases) and deaths related to Covid-19 have decreased by 35.3% (17 cases to 11 cases).

"In terms of hospital capacity, the number of admissions of Covid-19 patients in public hospitals and the filling of beds in Covid-19 facilities have decreased, while the percentage of beds filled in the Intensive Care Unit remains stable at 6%.

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"As of June 27, a total of 16,337,744 (50%) Malaysian residents have received the first booster dose and only 2.5% (825,275) have received the second booster dose.

"Based on these achievements managing the Covid-19 pandemic here, which has successfully curbed the spread of infection and restored the country's health services, we have revised the SOP with reference to the WHO's statement regarding the transition to long-term management of the Covid-19 pandemic," she said in a statement on Thursday (June 29).

Dr Zaliha said isolation procedures for confirmed cases of Covid-19 will have the period shortened from seven days to five days from the onset of the first symptoms.

ALSO READ: Covid-19: Isolation period reduced to five days from July 5, says Health Minister

"This is based on studies that say that the infectivity of Covid-19 cases is high in the first five days from the onset of symptoms with a high viral load during that period," she said.

Dr Zaliha said the SOP for the use of face masks include it being mandatory if one is Covid-19 positive.

"Individuals are required to wear a face mask when Covid-19 positive and in a health facility as one must follow the 'Infection Control and Prevention' practices when dealing with or handling patients.

"The use of face masks is highly encouraged based on one's self-assessment of being high risk, such as the elderly, individuals with chronic diseases, individuals with low immunity or pregnant women, especially when in crowded places and where ventilation is poor.

"Individuals with respiratory symptoms should also wear masks to avoid infection to others as well.

"Mask up while on public transportation services such as buses, trains, airplanes, taxis including e-hailing services, employee buses or vans and school buses or vans as well," she said.

She said the new SOPs are effective from July 5.

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