The Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) has imposed travel restrictions to and from seven countries in Africa starting Saturday (27 November 2021). The seven countries are South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. It follows the transmission of a new variant of Covid-19, B.1.1.529, which has 32 spike protein mutations, twice as many as the delta variant. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the MOH also imposed temporary restrictions on all travellers with a history of travel within 14 days to those countries. He said, as quoted by Sinar,
“Malaysian citizens and permanent resident pass holders who return to Malaysia from the country are allowed to enter the country but are required to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days at the quarantine centres regardless of vaccination status and are not allowed to undergo quarantine at home.”
He said the action was a precautionary measure and prevention as well as border control for travellers arriving at the country’s entrance. He clarified that the new set of actions will start today (27 November 2021). Khairy said the MOH was serious about the existence of the new variant and would improve genomic surveillance. He mentioned that based on the genomic surveillance conducted until November 26, no new Covid-19 virus variant B.1.1.529 has been reported in Malaysia. So far, three countries have reported cases related to the variant, namely South Africa with 77 cases, Botswana (four) and Hong Kong (two).
The first case was reported in the country of Botswana on 11 November, while South Africa on 14 November and followed by Hong Kong on 25 November. The World Health Organization (WHO) is still closely monitoring developments related to the reporting of new variants B.1.1.529. For now, it is categorized by the WHO as a variant under monitoring (VUM).
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