National Security Council Chief, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein had tweeted that Malaysia will be pausing its transition to the endemic phase amidst rising concern on the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.
Hishamuddin who is also the Foreign Minister commented that the Ministerial Quartet will be imposing stricter border controls to keep the country protected from the highly contagious variant which is spreading across the globe at the moment. The meeting was attended by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who recently cautioned the public on the new Omicron variant and its potency.
The variant first detected in Africa has been spreading quickly across Europe, the US, and Asia and has spooked nations to take to preemptive controls including closing borders to travelers from the origin continent.
WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 as Omicron and has classified it to have several mutations which may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes. Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, however, it noted that research is ongoing and information is limited at this moment.
But Europe and Japan are not taking chances and have closed their borders to curb the spread of infections already detected in many of the countries there.
Malaysia has not indicated the severity of action that will be taken, currently, visitors from other countries are allowed entry with quarantine SOP’s. The country also just opened its causeway and air route with Singapore to much fanfare, with this latest alert there is no update on what the next cause of action will be?
However, the machinery and system that has worked well for the country is still fresh in memory, any additional SOP’s will be effectively implemented for sure.