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Malaysia temporarily bans travellers from countries with Omicron cases

KUALA LUMPURMalaysia has temporarily banned the entry of travellers from countries that have reported the Omicron Covid-19 variant or are considered high risk, its health minister said yesterday.

The travel ban applies to eight African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, and could be extended to other nations where the variant has been detected, such as Britain and the Netherlands, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Malaysia will also delay plans to set up vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) with the affected countries and reimpose quarantine requirements for Malaysian citizens and long-term residents returning from those nations, regardless of their vaccination status.

"These are just temporary measures until we find out more about the Omicron variant," Mr Khairy said. "The moment we believe it is safe, we will lift these measures."

The country has not reported any cases of the Omicron variant.

Earlier this week, Malaysia and Singapore launched a two-way joint VTL, reopening their borders to quarantine-free travel after nearly two years.

Mr Khairy said VTL travellers who arrive in Malaysia will be required to conduct a Covid-19 self swab on the third and seventh days of their stay.

The results will have to be entered into the Mysejahtera contact tracing app.

The country also decided to delay the transition into the endemic phase as there is too much uncertainty regarding the recent spread of the Omicron variant, said Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said this was decided by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

"If we don't monitor Omicron closely, then how are we supposed to deal with it?" he asked.

However, he assured visitors that there would be no changes to the international tourism programme in Langkawi. - REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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