Face masks no longer mandatory on public transport, in hospitals - Dr Zaliha

29 Jun 2023 11:22am

Dr Zaliha
Dr Zaliha

SHAH ALAM: Face masks will no longer be mandatory on public transportation and at healthcare facilities, effective July 5, says Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

She, however, said the use of face masks will remain mandatory for Covid-19 positive patients and health workers.

This is following infection control procedures in dealing with patients, she added.

"The use of face masks is still highly encouraged on public transport," she said in a statement earlier.

"Individuals are required to wear a face mask for those infected by Covid-19, when in a health facility, as well as health workers according to practise in Infection Prevention and Control during face-to-face contact or handling patients.

"The use of face masks is highly encouraged based on self-assessment for individuals at high risk, such as the elderly, individuals with chronic diseases, individuals with low immunity, or pregnant mothers, especially when in a crowded place with poor ventilation.

"Individuals with respiratory symptoms should avoid spreading infection to others while in public transport such as buses, trains, aeroplanes, taxis, including e-hailing services, employee buses or vans, and school buses and vans," she said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Further, Zaliha added that isolation instructions for confirmed cases of Covid-19 will continue; however, the period is shortened from seven to five days from the onset of the first symptom, effective July 5.

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"This is based on studies, as it said the infectivity of Covid-19 is high in the first five days from the onset of symptoms, with a high viral load during that period.

"Although the assessment of the current situation of Covid-19 is not concerning and health services are not burdened by the Covid-19 situation, the status of the local area infection in Malaysia will end on June 30 and be extended for another six months until December 31.

"It is to enable the enforcement of some provisions in the Prevention and Control Regulation Infectious Diseases (measures in the area of local infection) (national recovery plan) (transition phase to endemic) 2022 P.U. (A) 83/2022 enacted on the authority of the Minister under subsection 11 (2) Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342)," she said.

She added that the extension of Malaysia’s declaration as an "Infected Local Areas Order" is also needed considering there is a risk of the emergence of new variants and subvariants of the virus SARS-CoV-2 in Malaysia.

She also said many gatherings expected to occur during the celebration of Hari Raya Aidil Adha and also during state elections are likely to be at risk, contribute to the increase in cases, and burden the government's health services if control measures and prevention are not fully implemented.

She said the Health Ministry will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation as well as reported variants to take immediate and appropriate action when required.

"We advise the public to continue practising good self-control as practised at this time, including personal hygiene, to avoid infection with infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

"The public needs to bear the responsibility to protect themselves and not only themselves but the whole community, especially those at higher risk," she said in the statement.