The health ministry says it is prepared to change the existing healthcare policy for Covid-19 pandemic management at the country’s borders, including by tightening the SOPs for health checks.
Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the extension of Malaysia as a "local infection area" until June would give the ministry the space to make the necessary changes, with the resurgence in Covid-19 cases in China.
She said the ministry took seriously the concerns of the people regarding the increase in Covid-19 cases in China, as well as the restrictions imposed by several countries on travellers from the republic.
"It will be implemented if necessary, not only on visitors or travellers (Malaysians and non-citizens) arriving from China but also from other countries.
"The ministry will step up the methods of containing the spread of Covid-19 in the country as well as its readiness to face any increase in cases," she said in a statement.
Zaliha said the ministry was also prepared to increase the country's health capacity to face any possibility.
She said it would always adopt policies that are guided by and based on science and accurate data, in addition to working together with the World Health Organization (WHO), China and Asean member countries.
"WHO has held a meeting with China to share the latest data and it will continue to find detailed information on the situation and management of Covid-19 in the country.
"Based on the information reported by China to WHO, the variants and sub-variants in China have also been detected in Malaysia," she said.
China reported a spike in Covid-19 cases late last year due to the Omicron variant. This resulted in several countries deciding to restrict the entry of travellers from China as a preventive move to stop the spread of the pandemic.
In a related development, Zaliha said that based on existing information, the Covid-19 vaccine was effective in providing protection from severe symptoms due to the virus infection, and would reduce hospital admissions.
She also said that the bivalent vaccine would be supplied to Malaysia soon following the approval of the conditional registration by the Drug Control Authority.
"An announcement will be made when the supply is received," she said, urging those who had received their first booster dose six months ago or more to get a second booster dose.
She said there was no need to wait for the bivalent vaccine as the existing monovalent vaccine was still very effective at reducing serious symptoms and deaths, she said.
Zaliha said she hoped to see an increase in the number of people taking the booster dose, especially among the high-risk group.
Currently, only 49.8% of Malaysians have received their first booster shot and only 1.9% have taken their second booster dose, she added.
She also reminded the public to continue taking care of their health and that of their families, and to adhere to health advice and recommendations.