KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — Two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 were detected in Johor yesterday, the New Straits Times (NST) reported.

The report cited the State Health and Environment Committee chairman R.Vidyananthan saying that the cases involved a couple who returned from performing the umrah in Saudi Arabia.

“The couple went to Saudi Arabia on Dec 4 and returned to Malaysia via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Dec 16.

“PCR tests were performed on the couple upon their return and the samples were sent to the Institute of Medical Research for the genomic sequencing process, which later confirmed they were positive for the Omicron variant,” he reportedly said in a statement, adding that the duo are currently undergoing home quarantine.

He said that all close contacts of the couple have also been identified and have been issued with home surveillance orders (HSOs).

Vidyananthan also reminded Johoreans returning from overseas, especially those coming back after performing the umrah, to strictly observe the mandatory quarantine order.

He also advised the public to undergo self-tests before engaging in group activities or visiting family and friends, in view of the upcoming New Year celebrations.

“The department would also like to urge those who are eligible, to get the Covid-19 vaccine booster shots so they would get the optimum protection against the virus,” he added.

Bracing for the threat of the more transmissible Covid-19 Omicron variant, large-scale New Year’s Eve and Christmas celebrations will not be allowed, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced on December 16.

However, smaller private parties were permitted, provided that all attendees perform a Covid-19 self-test before attending.

With rising concern over the Omicron variant, Khairy also announced additional measures to address the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

These include making booster doses by February a requirement to retain full vaccination status for those who received the Sinovac vaccine as well as recipients of other vaccines aged 60 years’ old and above.