Malaysia is extending the quarantine period for people who arrived via repatriation flights from India on Wednesday and Thursday from 14 days to 21 days.
Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the decision was made based on the ministry’s risk assessments, particularly after some of the returnees tested positive for Covid-19 despite having cleared their pre-departure tests.
“The Health Ministry will continue to monitor the situation and will make immediate risk assessments on the need to extend the quarantine period from 14 days to 21 days for all other passengers arriving from India (such as Malaysian citizens).
“Existing restrictions for non-Malaysian passengers from India remain in place.
“All Malaysians are advised to cooperate in stopping the spread of the new (Covid-19) variant from India, namely B.1.617. This variant is reported to spread faster and causes more serious illness including among those below 50 years old,” he said in a statement today.
They will be required to stay in a quarantine centre determined by the government, and undergo further RT-PCR testing for the disease.
Noor Hisham did not detail the risk assessments made.
In previous statements and press conferences, however, he disclosed that a traveller who arrived from India on April 7 had tested negative for Covid-19 twice on April 7 and April 12.
On April 21, however, he was brought to an Emergency and Trauma Department with severe Covid-19 symptoms, and he passed away on May 1 after this condition deteriorated.
Further tests found that he was infected with the B.1.617.2 variant, which is a sub-variant of B.1.617.
Singapore also has a 21-day quarantine police, but applies this to most travellers entering the country, including Malaysians entering the country for work.
The policy was made after some travellers reportedly tested negative during their 14-day quarantine but subsequently tested positive.
The policy was in place since May 8, making it one of the longest in the world.
In contrast, Malaysia imposes a 14-day quarantine period for travellers from countries where Covid-19 variants of concern are circulating, and 10-day quarantine for other countries.
A ban for travellers from India is also imposed due to concerns over the B.1.617 variant, except for Malaysians and their dependents returning on humanitarian and disaster relief flights.
The first of such flights landed with 117 Malaysian citizens, six dependents, one permanent resident, and eight Brunei nationals, on Wednesday.
Noor Hisham said none of the passengers displayed any Covid-19 symptoms upon their arrival, but tests found seven out of the 132 passengers have been infected. This corresponds to a positivity rate of 5.3 percent.