KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Some two million recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine by Sinovac are set to lose their fully vaccinated status if they do not receive their boosters by April 1, said Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
"Based on the latest data, about 2.09 million recipients of the Sinovac vaccine for their primary series have yet to get their booster shots," he told a press conference in Parliament on Thursday (March 24).
"They will stand to lose their fully vaccinated status when the deadline ends."
The deadline for adult primary recipients of CoronaVac - the vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech - is March 31, after it was extended from Feb 28.
Mr Khairy also said that those who had yet to get their Sinovac booster would be deemed "not fully vaccinated" by Singapore.
"Based on my discussion with the Singapore health minister, he said the country would also consider those Sinovac recipients who are not boosted as not fully vaccinated," said Mr Khairy.
"So, if you want to enjoy a Singapore holiday, you know what to do. It is best to get your booster shot."
When asked if Malaysia will follow Singapore in removing the mask mandate when outdoors, Mr Khairy said the wearing of face masks would remain mandatory. However, he noted that current standard operating procedure (SOP) did allow for certain exemptions.
"Our mask mandate will still remain. But maybe some are not really clear that our SOP states that it is not mandatory in certain situations," he said.
The minister cited several exceptions, among them when an individual is not around another, is at home with family, in a hotel room or a personal workspace.
"You are also allowed to remove your mask in your own vehicle. Other situations when masks are allowed to be removed include during sports and recreational activities, stage performances and dining," the health minister added.
"Those with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or autism, and those with breathing difficulties are also exempted from wearing masks."
On Thursday, Singapore announced the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, among which is that masks are not compulsory outdoors. They, however, remain mandatory indoors.
Malaysia recorded 24,316 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, said the Health Ministry, of which 24,019 cases were local transmissions, while 297 were imported cases.
This brings the total number of Covid-19 infections in the country to 4,079,242 cases since the pandemic began. A total of 64 deaths were recorded on Thursday, bringing the total to 34,664.