The health ministry has issued a ban on travellers from 26 countries identified as having reported the spread of the Omicron variant from joining the Langkawi tourism bubble (GPL).
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the countries are the UK, Portugal, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Nigeria and Belgium.
The others are Japan, Brazil, Norway, Czech Republic, France/Reunion Island, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ghana, Republic of Ireland, United Arab Emirates and the US (California).
“For residents of Langkawi (citizens and holders of long visit passes) from the countries listed or with a history of travel to these countries within 14 days, they must enter via KLIA only.
“In addition, (they must) undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at the stipulated quarantine stations before being allowed to continue their journey to Langkawi. Direct flight to Langkawi is not allowed,” he said.
Noor Hisham said some countries at high risk but which have not reported the Omicron variant of concern (VOC) are also not allowed to participate in the GPL.
He said the countries involved are the European continent which encompassed the Russian federation, Georgia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, North Macedonia, Guernsey and Croatia.
Other countries are French Guiana, the US, Philippines (West Pacific), Libya and Jordan (East Mediterranean), Bangladesh (Southeast) as well as Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Africa).
He said the ministry always conducts risk evaluations based on several set criteria to decide the level of a country’s risk before it is allowed to join the GPL.
“Among the criteria taken into account are the incidence of Covid-19 and the immunisation coverage in those countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Noor Hisham said 515 new cases of variants were reported from Nov 25 to Dec 2, bringing the cumulative number of cases categorised as VOC and variants of interest (VOI) to 4,692.
Of these, 4,672 were VOC while 20 cases were VOI. The overall total comprises 4,432 Delta VOC cases; 226 Beta cases and 14 Alpha cases.
For VOI cases, there were 13 Theta cases, four Kappa cases and three Eta cases.