KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia will begin reopening schools from June 24, its Education Minister said yesterday, as the country enters recovery mode after three months of strict curbs on movement and businesses to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
South-east Asia's third-largest economy began lifting most coronavirus restrictions from yesterday, after the government declared that the outbreak was under control.
Schools will be reopened in stages, beginning with students facing public examinations and equivalent international school examinations this year, Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said.
Malaysia has reported 8,338 cases and 117 deaths.
The country yesterday reported two new Covid-19 cases, the third day in a row where the number of new cases was in the single digits.
The Health Ministry reported seven new coronavirus cases on both Monday and Tuesday.
The reopening of certain classes in schools will involve some 500,000 students at 2,440 schools, said Mr Mohd Radzi in a live televised broadcast.
He said these students would be taking the SPM and STPM examinations - the equivalent of the O levels and A levels in Malaysia respectively - and studying for the Higher Islamic Religious Certificate and the Malaysian Vocational Certificate, as well as international equivalent exams.
He added that the ministry's decision to allow schools to reopen was based on the advice of the National Security Council and the Health Ministry.
Mr Mohd Radzi stressed the importance of adhering to healthcare protocols for these students so as to avoid a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Students have not been able to attend school since Malaysia imposed the movement control order on March 18.
"We hope parents and guardians will ensure their children are healthy before sending them to school," Mr Mohd Radzi said.
Meanwhile, the 8,831 Malaysians who were still undergoing mandatory quarantine at government-gazetted facilities will continue the process at home, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.
He said that Tuesday was the last day that quarantine centres at hotels were in operation, adding that the people at these facilities will spend their remaining quarantine period at home as they have tested negative for Covid-19.
"Beginning (on Wednesday), Malaysians who return from overseas will undergo Covid-19 screening at the airport. Those who are negative can go home but must observe the mandatory 14-day quarantine," he said.
He said that if the outcome of the swab tests could not be obtained within a few hours, the returnees would be sent to quarantine centres while waiting for their results.
Datuk Seri Ismail also reminded returning Malaysians that they must download the MySejahtera app for monitoring purposes before they are allowed to go home and be quarantined.
"Those who fail to observe the mandatory quarantine and standard operating procedures can be compounded (fined) or taken to court," he added.
From April 3, a total of 51,422 Malaysians returning from abroad had been sent for mandatory quarantine at gazetted facilities, including hotels.
As of yesterday, 42,817 people had completed the process and returned home.
Meanwhile, in line with the relaxation of movement curbs, Sabah state has relaxed its quarantine requirements for Malaysians arriving there, but checks and procedures to assess risks associated with arrivals will continue.
Sabah Health Department director Christina Rundi said all those arriving in the state via land, air or sea will have to fill up a health declaration form and undergo medical screening upon arrival. Those showing symptoms would be sent to the nearest hospital for further observation, while those with no symptoms would be assessed based on the requirements of the Covid-19 risk assessment form.
REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK