malaysia endemic, hishammudin

The transition date will depend on the COVID-19 Pandemic Management Special Committee (JKKPP). Meanwhile, the senior minister highlighted that borders will only reopen after discussions with the relevant ministries have been shared with JKKPP.

Senior Minister for Defence Hishammuddin Hussein addressed Malaysia's transition to an endemic phase in a recent press conference on Tuesday (8 February 2022). 

Prefacing his statement, Senior Minister Hishammuddin acknowledged that he understands many are concerned about the increasing wave of the Omicron variant. However, he went on to say that "we cannot budge from planning to move into the next phase", also affirming that large-scale nationwide lockdowns will not be re-implemented. In the event of an increase in cases in a particular area, only the enhanced movement control order will be enforced in that specific area.  

On facilitating the transition into an endemic phase, the minister considered two factors. 

Firstly, he mentioned the status of Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Despite the spike in daily COVID-19 cases, the number of those being treated in ICUs were low. As such, he assures that Malaysia’s healthcare system has the situation under control.

Secondly, he emphasised that there are seven pillars to citizens must understand to aid in the transition to an endemic phase:

  • Adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) - the number of SOPs will be reduced to one SOP and nine guidelines;
  • Heightened Alert System (HAS); 
  • A national testing strategy;
  • Test, Report, Isolate, Inform, Seek (TRIIS);
  • Automated Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support (FTTIS);
  • Gradual opening of the country’s borders; and
  • Community empowerment ambassadors.

He stated that overall planning on the COVID-19 Quartet of Ministers' level is done. However, the implementation date of the transition will depend on the COVID-19 Pandemic Management Special Committee (JKKPP), chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob.

In the same press conference, Senior Minister Hishammudin further addressed the revised SOPs for umrah pilgrimage, which has resumed for Malaysians.

Per the SOPs, a person-in-charge from the travel agency will monitor the pilgrims’ compliance while at Mecca, on their return trip to Malaysia, and while at Malaysia’s international entry point. The person-in-charge will be together with the pilgrims throughout the entire journey if the group size is above 40. If the group size is below this number, the person-in-charge would only be present each time the pilgrims go through a segment of the pilgrimage.

Further, the senior minister added that booster shots are now mandatory for those travelling for pilgrimage

Upon returning to Malaysia, pilgrims may undergo their mandatory quarantine at their own accommodation without a Home Quarantine Application. At the same time, those who wish to quarantine at a private facility instead may do so, but are expected to bear their own stay, food and medical expenses.

The SOPs will take effect on 14 February 2022 (Monday). For pilgrims who have already travelled for umrah between 8 February to 13 February, they are to comply with existing SOPs. However, upon return, they are to comply with these new set of SOPs.  

Apart from the above, Senior Minister Hishammuddin also said the country’s borders would only be reopened after discussions with the Health Ministry, Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministr,y as well as the Immigration Department. Following the discussion, the matter will then be brought to the Cabinet or JKKPP, chaired by the prime minister.

While this is so, the senior minister noted that the two ministries and the Immigration Department have been instructed to make preparations for the reopening of the country’s borders.

He commented: “The reopening of the country’s borders is a big decision, especially involving countries with bilateral relations that are still closing their borders to Malaysians."

Image / Screenshot of press conference by Senior Minister for Defence Hishammuddin Hussein, MOD

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