Vaccinated travellers not exempt from mandatory quarantine

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Travellers who have received the Covid-19 vaccine are not exempt from complying with the prescribed Covid-19 infection prevention measures, including undergoing mandatory quarantine, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

He said the health ministry on March 12 had decided that risk assessments should be carried out on travellers who had received complete Covid-19 immunisation, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also not recommended that the vaccination could be used as an “immunity passport” for travel purposes.

He said although countries with access to Covid-19 vaccines had begun inoculating their people since the end of 2020, more information was required to determine its effectiveness.

“For example, in terms of how much it reduces the transmission of infection and the period of immunity for a person who has received the Covid-19 vaccine,” he said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, Noor Hisham said travellers could apply for an exemption to undergo quarantine at quarantine stations based on several risk assessment criteria.

The criteria include evidence of having received the Covid-19 vaccine; travellers from low-risk countries; having a suitable place of residence here to undergo the quarantine, including no risk of exposure to other members of the house; and having a negative Covid-19 test result.

He said travellers who met the criteria could be given the flexibility to undergo mandatory quarantine at the residence, subject to quarantine conditions set by the government.

According to him, 61,931 individuals returned to Malaysia between Jan 1 and March 27 this year, with 61,462 people undergoing mandatory quarantine at quarantine stations; 409 at their place of residence; 31 at the hospital; while 29 were Short Term Business Travelers (STBT).

“During the period, 2,743 applications were received for undergoing quarantine at home and getting an exemption from undergoing quarantine at quarantine stations, with 409 applications approved,” he said.

The approved applications include 138 individuals due to health problems, 109 people who are caregivers to travellers with health problems, 14 people with a history of being Covid-19 positive, and 14 people under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement / Reciprocal Green Lane.

In the meantime, he said 285 individuals from the total had been given “time-off” to visit family members who were ill, and to attend the funeral of close relatives.

“For those who apply to visit a sick family member or attend the funeral of a deceased family member, the traveller (Person Under Surveillance – PUS) will be given time off and will have to return to the quarantine station to complete the mandatory quarantine period,” he said.

He said all the PUS were required to comply with strict SOPs by the health ministry during their visit, and vehicles and escorts for the visits were managed at the quarantine station by the National Disaster Management Agency through the Malaysian Civil Defence Force.

Noor Hisham said this was because PUS travellers undergoing quarantine were at risk of transmitting the infection to people around them.

Based on monitoring carried out by the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre, there are 27 Covid-19 clusters involving index cases who arrived from abroad, with 2,019 positive cases reported between March 4 last year and March 26, 2021.

“The health ministry will continue to monitor the development of Covid-19 infections within and outside the country, whereby screening for the disease among travellers from abroad will be continued at all international gateways in the country,” he said.

The government had briefly allowed Malaysian citizens to self-quarantine at home in June last year, but due to incidents of those ignoring the quarantine order, it was once again made mandatory for them to undergo quarantine at quarantine stations from July 24, 2020, at their own cost. - FMT



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