Recently, a travel ban was implemented for those heading to Saudi Arabia for their Umrah journey. This was in light of the increasing Covid-19 cases that followed travelers returning to Malaysia.
Now, Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin is shedding new light on why the ban is necessary.
He shared in a press conference that 157 (64% of the overall number of cases) travelers returning to Malaysia from their Umrah trips have tested positive for the Omicron variant, adding to a total of 245 cases.
On top of that, Berita Harian reported that 17 of these cases have been detected to be unvaccinated.
Khairy added that the period of the ban will be used to implement better SOPs as close contacts of Covid-19 cases have previously been allowed to travel among uninfected passengers.
“There is one case that is very worrying. It involved 91 Umrah pilgrams from one travel agency. 55 out of this 91 have been detected to be Covid-19 positive during their pre-departure tests in Saudi Arabia. They were isolated in a hotel there.”
“36 out of this group, that were there under the same package, are close contacts. But they were allowed to get on the plane and come back to Malaysia. The close contacts were not separated. And when they returned to Malaysia, 24 of them were confirmed to be positive with Covid-19. 4 of them are presumptive Omicron cases.” he explained.
He said that postponing Umrah travels will allow the authorities to tighten the SOPs, especially due to the above mentioned case.
Stay tuned for more updates.