KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will suspend Umrah trips to Saudi Arabia from Jan 8 as part of efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, health minister of Malaysia Khairy Jamaluddin announced on Saturday (Jan 1).
The decision was made as authorities are concerned about people breaching home quarantine after returning from the pilgrimage.
“Most pilgrims who returned from performing the umrah applied to undergo their seven-day quarantine at home. However, when there was non-compliance with the stipulated standard operating procedure, positive COVID-19 cases among umrah pilgrims caused the infection to spread among family members,” said Mr Khairy at a press conference.
“Due to non-compliance with the home quarantine procedures, family members living in the same house or neighbours and relatives who come visiting are exposed to COVID-19 infection.”
Bookings for new umrah flight tickets were suspended on Saturday, he said.
The health minister added that pilgrims returning to Malaysia from Jan 3 will have to quarantine at designated facilities.
“Pilgrims leaving for the Holy Land (Mecca) between Jan 1 and 7 will be allowed to proceed with their journey. However, they need to undergo quarantine at quarantine stations or hotels identified by NADMA (national disaster management agency) on their return to Malaysia,” he told reporters.
Originally Published by CNA