The health ministry today said it had detected six more Covid-19 cases involving variants of concern (VOC) in the country between June 20 and 22.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the cases comprised five Beta variant cases (B.1.351) and one Delta variant case (B.1.617.2).
“For the Beta variant, two cases were detected in Penang and one case each in Sabah, Kedah and Perlis, while the Delta variant case was detected in Negeri Sembilan,” he said in a statement.
He said this latest development brought the total number of cases involving VOCs and variants of interest (VOI) to 189.
Of these, 173 cases were VOC while 16 were VOI, he added.
Noor Hisham also said applications and appeals to shorten the quarantine period for those entering the country would have to go through a strict evaluation process.
“Various appeals were received by the Home Surveillance Order Committee at the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre, and these appeals are mostly related to exemption applications and the shortening of quarantine period by travellers returning from abroad for certain reasons.
“The ministry understands the various personal situations they face, but at the same time it must remain serious in the implementation of this quarantine policy to ensure that the risk of Covid-19 infection from abroad can be minimised,” he said.
Malaysia previously extended the mandatory quarantine period to 21 days for Malaysians and non-citizen travellers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan at government-designated quarantine stations.
Travellers from other countries are required to undergo quarantine for 14 days at a quarantine centre. However, the quarantine period will be extended by seven days if there is a need, based on the risk assessment conducted on the 14th day.
Noor Hisham said the extension of the quarantine period was important to ensure that the spread of Covid-19 infection from abroad does not occur, especially those involving VOCs and VOIs.
“This variant is found to spread faster and cause a higher risk of death. In fact, this (quarantine extension) is also a practice that is carried out by most other countries,” he said.