The isolation period for Covid-19 cases has been shortened from seven days to five effective July 5, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa says.
In a statement, she said research showed that Covid-19 infectivity was at its highest during the first five days.
She also said that while it was compulsory before to mask up when using public transport and in health facilities, this would no longer be the case.
Only Covid-19 positive individuals and those handling them will be required to wear face masks in healthcare facilities, she said.
She added however that high-risk individuals such as senior citizens, those with chronic diseases, individuals with low immunity, and pregnant women were strongly encouraged to wear face masks, especially in crowded places and areas with poor ventilation.
She said individuals with respiratory symptoms were also encouraged to mask up while using public transport such as buses, on flights and taxis, including e-hailing services, worker bus/vans and school buses or vans to prevent infecting others.
Meanwhile, Zaliha said the ministry had decided to extend the status of local infection areas in Malaysia, due to end on June 30, by another six months until Dec 31, 2023, although the Covid-19 situation was not at a worrying level and health services were not under pressure.
She said this was to facilitate the management of the disease as there were risks of new variants and sub-variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.
"Apart from this, mass gatherings are expected to occur during the Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration and also (the coming) state elections, which risk contributing to an increase in cases and burdening the government healthcare service system if prevention and control measures are not fully implemented."
Zaliha said new Covid-19 cases had declined by 53.5% (5,801 cases to 2,698) and deaths dropped by 35.3% (17 cases to 11) in the past five weeks, from epidemiological week (ME) 21/2023 to ME 25/2023.
"In terms of hospital capacity, admissions of Covid-19 patients to public hospitals and bed occupancies have dropped while the use of ICU beds remained stable at 6% in ME 25/2023 compared to ME 24/2023," she said.