Malaysia updates travel protocols and SOPs for the holidays

Minister for Health Khairy Jamaluddin also addressed the nation's booster programme, the citizens' complete vaccination status, as well as the latest confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

Residents of Malaysia are to abide by a new series of standard operating procedures (SOPs) as the nation approaches the year-end holiday, according to Malaysia's Minister for Health Khairy Jamaluddin's latest press conference on 16 December 2021 (Thursday), which revolves around:

  • Testing protocols for travellers from the United Kingdom (UK), and from Omicron-affected countries;
  • Celebrations for the festive season (i.e Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve/Day);
  • Booster programme, and
  • How to maintain 'complete vaccination' status.

Continue below to find the four segments explained in detail.

#1 Testing protocols for travellers from the UK

For starters, effective 17 December 2021 (Friday), all incoming travellers from the UK must:

  • Pre-departure:
    • Undergo reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing two days before departure for Malaysia.
  • On-arrival:
    • Undergo RT-PCR testing, and
    • Wear a digital tracker on the wrist at all times.
  • Quarantine:
    • Undergo a seven-day quarantine for the fully-vaccinated, and a 10-day quarantine for the un- and partially-vaccinated;
    • Administer self rapid antigen (RT-Ag) testing daily, and submit test results on the MySejahtera app, and
    • Undergo RT-PCR testing on day five (for those in a seven-day quarantine), and on day eight (for those in a 10-day quarantine).

The quarantine protocols will apply at the place of quarantine, which can either be at home, or at designated quarantine stations "depending on home quarantine application status". With regard to post-quarantine procedures, risk assessment will be done on the last day of quarantine (day seven, or day 10).

Should there be any symptomatic signs, the quarantine will be extended. That said, Malaysians will be released on day eight, or day 10 provided the result is negative on day five, or day eight of quarantine.

These testing protocols, Minister Khairy said, are due to the increasing number of confirmed cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and are part of the Ministry's control and prevention measures.

#2 Testing protocols for travellers from countries with confirmed cases of Omicron

In Minister Khairy's previous announcement, travel restrictions applied to those coming from countries with confirmed cases of Omicron such as Australia, the United States, Norway, France, and the United Kingdom. Per his latest announcement, the list has been updated with four more countries: Denmark, Canada, Nigeria, and India.

With that, travellers from these countries must abide by the following testing protocols:

  • Pre-departure:
    • Undergo a COVID-19 PCR test two days before departure for Malaysia.
  • On-arrival:
    • Undergo a COVID-19 PCR test, and
    • Wear a digital tracker on the wrist at all times upon arrival at Pasport Malaysia Antarabangsa (PMA).
  • Quarantine:
    • Undergo a seven-day quarantine for the fully-vaccinated, and a 10-day quarantine for the un- and partially-vaccinated;
    • Undergo PCR testing on day five (for those in a seven-day quarantine), and on day eight (for those in a 10-day quarantine).

Similarly, travellers who are coming from the United Kingdom must abide by the testing protocols in #1 (i.e administering of RT-Ag testing daily, and submitting test results on the MySejahtera app). Otherwise, travellers from the other nations are to take note the aforementioned testing protocol in #2.

The quarantine protocols will likewise apply at the place of quarantine, which can either be at home, or at designated quarantine stations "depending on home quarantine application status". With regard to post-quarantine procedures, risk assessment will be done on the last day of quarantine (day seven, or day 10).

Should there be any symptomatic signs, the quarantine will be extended. That said, they will be released on day eight, or day 10 provided the result is negative on day five, or day eight of quarantine.

#3 SOPs for the upcoming holidays

In the Minister's same line of announcements, he had highlighted that for the upcoming holidays (i.e Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day), Malaysians are not allowed to organise any form of large-scale parties.

Small-scale parties are, however, allowed with family and friends - and attendees are required to undergo COVID-19 PCR tests before being present at such parties.

#4 Booster programme

As for the topic of booster shots, Minister Khairy also shared that the nation's mega vaccine delivery centre (pusat pemberian vaksin mega) will be re-established to expedite the implementation of booster shots, and it will first start in Klang Valley.

#5 'Complete vaccination' status

All individuals for those aged 60 and over who have been fully-vaccinated (i.e two doses) with their respective type of vaccines, and all individuals aged 18 and over who have been fully-vaccinated (i.e two doses), with the Sinovac vaccine must receive a booster shot by February 2022 to achieve a 'complete vaccination' status.

Beyond this series of announcements, on 16 December 2021 (Thursday), the Minister for Health also released a statement to share the Omicron situation in Malaysia, as the nation witnessed two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant; one of which involves an eight-year-old Malaysian who lived in Lagos, Nigeria. Minister Khairy explained that although "the result of RT-PCR test on the case before departure to Malaysia was negative", the RT-PCR test results of the case upon arrival were "found to be positive for COVID-19" on 7 December 2021.

The Malaysian girl, and her family, have showcased no symptoms, but are undergoing isolation at home for 14 days.

"Close contacts to the case consisted of the mother, sister, father, and taxi driver who brought the case and his family from KLIA to the residence. All tests conducted on his mother and younger sister, namely tests before departure to Malaysia, upon arrival, on the fifth day and on the eleventh day showed negative results," Minister Khairy said. "The COVID-19 RT-PCR test for the taxi driver is underway."


Image / Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia

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