The government has decided to temporarily suspend permission for travel to perform the umrah beginning Jan 8 to curb the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who announced this today said the authorities were concerned that non-compliance with home quarantine procedures among returning pilgrims had caused the spread of the new variant among family members.
“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 SOPs, positive Covid-19 cases among umrah pilgrims caused the infection to spread among family members.
“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,” he said at a press conference.
He said a special meeting was held yesterday to discuss the situation with several agencies involved in umrah pilgrim management, including the tourism, arts and culture ministry; Wakaf, Zakat and Haj Department; transport ministry; National Security Council; National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma); immigration department and Association of Umrah and Haj Tour Agencies.