Health Ministry issues new SOPs for pilgrims returning to Malaysia from umrah

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on January 19, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on January 19, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 — The Ministry of Health (MoH) has released new rules for those who already performing or set to depart for the minor Muslim pilgrimage or umrah before the government’s travel prohibition begins on January 8.

In a statement, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the updated standard operating procedures (SOPs) would apply to those returning to the country.

Dr Noor Hisham said the pilgrims must undergo a Covid-19 RT-PCR test two days prior to their departure and another upon arrival.

“Beginning January 3, pilgrims returning to the country must undergo quarantine for seven days at a designated quarantine facility.

“If you find yourself in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, you must undergo self-testing using the RTK-Ag test,” he said.

He said that on the fifth day of quarantine, the returnees will be required to undergo a third RT-PCR test, and will be released after eight days if all the tests were negative.

On December 25, 2021, the MoH reported 45 new Omicron cases imported from abroad, including in 30 travellers who returned from Saudi Arabia after performing their umrah.

This led to the ministry temporarily suspending travel permission to prospective pilgrims beginning January 8 to curb the spread of Omicron following concerns over the spread of the variant due to non-compliance by umrah pilgrims with quarantine procedures upon their return.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said that he is holding discussions and engagement sessions with stakeholders, as well as discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and the Umrah and Haj Travel Agencies’ Association (Papuh), whether the affected pilgrims were to be given a refund or their travel to be rescheduled.

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