PUTRAJAYA, Jan 9 — The approval process for the advertisement of umrah packages has been suspended from January 8, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) said in a statement today.

This was because the flight date, which is a mandatory condition in the advertisement could not be determined following the government’s decision to temporarily suspend travel permission to perform umrah effective January 8, to curb the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in a press conference on January 1 said the government had decided on the measure from January 8, in light of increasing Covid-19 positive cases among umrah pilgrims.

The suspension was following concerns that the spread of the variant was due to non-compliance with the home quarantine procedures among pilgrims and this had caused the infection to spread among family members.

“Motac is working to find the best solution in mitigating the impact on umrah operators registered with the ministry, following the government’s announcement to temporarily suspend the permission for travelling to perform the umrah,” the statement read.

According to Motac it would be working with the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and tour and travel associations to improve umrah travel standard operating procedures according to current needs for the approval of the National Security Council (NSC).

On claims that some umrah pilgrims were found to have no vaccination record, Motac said the ministry and the travel agencies were confident that the issue would be resolved as investigation into the matter were being conducted by the MoH.

Khairy on January 6 said that the MoH had detected 17 of the 122 individuals who were infected with the Omicron variant as of January 4, were found to have no Covid-19 vaccination record. — Bernama