Omicron worries: Malaysia bans large-scale New Year celebrations

Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Health Ministry announced on Thursday that large-scale New Year celebrations have been banned due to fears that the new Omicron form of Covid-19 could spread throughout the country.

According to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the decision was made after the confirmation of a second Omicron case in the country and at least 18 additional suspected cases. The Health Ministry would like to announce additional measures to prevent the spread of Omicron after the finding of two verified Omicron variant cases and 18 other suspected cases that underwent genetic sequencing, he said.  "Organizing huge New Year's parties is not permitted," he stated, "but small-scale New Year's or Christmas gatherings are permitted for the time being, with attendees required to complete Covid self-tests beforehand."

The second confirmed case involves an eight-year-old girl who lived in Nigeria with her family before arriving in Malaysia on December 5 and being tested there. On December 14, it was determined that it was an Omicron case. Thirty-five of the patient's close associates are being monitored, according to Khairy. In order to prevent the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Health Ministry has enacted new prohibitions against travellers from the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, the number of countries classed as "high-risk" has climbed to nine. Travellers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, France, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Nigeria, and India, where the Omicron variant has been spreading, must be fitted with wrist digital trackers upon arrival and throughout the duration of their quarantine.

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