Malaysia relaxes Covid-19 quarantine rules for adult asymptomatic close contacts

They will still be required to undergo a rapid test kit antigen test on the first and third day after exposure. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Thursday (Feb 24) announced that asymptomatic close contacts aged 18 and older who have had their Covid-19 vaccine booster shots will no longer have to undergo mandatory quarantine from March 1.

They will still be required to undergo a rapid test kit (RTK)-antigen test on the first and third day after exposure to the coronavirus.

"For those who have been identified as close contacts to a Covid-19 positive case, if they have no symptoms on the first day of exposure and have received their boosters, they do not need to undergo quarantine," Mr Khairy told reporters.

"However, they must undergo Covid-19 self-tests on the first and third day after their exposures. If they test negative, they can go about doing their usual stuff, if they test positive, then they must report to MySejahtera," he said, referring to the country's contact-tracing mobile app.

Mr Khairy added that close contacts who show mild symptoms will have to undergo the mandatory five-day quarantine even if they have completed their booster shots.

"Symptomatic close contacts will need to undergo an RTK Antigen test on the fifth day and can only be released from home surveillance and observation in the event of a negative result," he said.

Close contacts who display no symptoms but have yet to receive their booster shots will still need to undergo quarantine for five days.

"If you say that you are not symptomatic, then you will not be given a Home Surveillance Order and your MySejahtera status remains normal," said Mr Khairy.

Malaysia is currently battling a new wave of Covid-19 infections due to the highly transmissible but less severe Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The country has been logging cases daily in the five-figure range since Feb 6 and the number continues to climb.

On Thursday, Malaysia logged 31,199 cases, the highest since the start of the pandemic.

To date, nearly 26.8 million people in the country have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 96 per cent of those have received two doses while 14.3 million or 53 per cent have had their booster shots.

"Fully vaccinated people tend to have lower viral loads if infected during the Omicron wave and that viral loads will presumably decrease for those who received booster shots," Mr Khairy said.

He said that high vaccine coverage and increasing booster coverage as well as the "decoupling" of daily infections from the severe effects of Covid-19 led to the new policy.

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