TEMPO.CO, Kuala Lumpur - Large scale New Year celebrations in Malaysia have been banned over concerns that the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 could spread in the country, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, December 16.
The decision was made following the confirmation of a second Omicron case in the country and at least 18 more suspected cases, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told a press conference.
Due to the detection of two confirmed Omicron variant cases and 18 other suspected cases, which underwent genomic sequencing, the Health Ministry would like to announce additional measures to prevent the spread of Omicron, he said.
"The organization of large New Year's celebrations is not allowed but small-form celebrations of New Year or Christmas can happen for now, with those attending being required to carry out COVID-19 self tests beforehand," he said.
The second confirmed case is an eight-year-old child who had lived with her family in Nigeria before arriving in Malaysia on Dec. 5, being tested on arrival. It was confirmed to be an Omicron case on Dec. 14.
Thirty-five close contacts of the patient are being monitored, Khairy added.
The Health Ministry has also introduced new rules against travelers from Britain to prevent the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Starting on Dec. 17, travelers from Britain would need to do daily self-tests during their quarantine period and all results need be reported on the government's COVID-19 management app.
In addition, the list of countries that were classified as "high-risk" have increased to nine. Travelers from Britain, the United States, Australia, France, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Nigeria and India, where the Omicron variant has been spreading in the community, are required to be fitted with wrist digital trackers upon arrival and during their quarantine.
Travelers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi are still not allowed to enter Malaysia for the time being.
Malaysia has reported its first Omicron case on Dec. 3, with a 19-year-old female student travelling from South Africa testing positive.