Umrah pilgrimage must now be postponed following the government’s decision to issue an order to temporarily stop trips to Saudi Arabia starting January 8.
The decision is expected to help reduce the risk of transmission of Omicron in the country and slow the increase in COVID-19 cases.
However, pilgrims who are departing on January 1 to 7 are allowed to continue their journey but will have to undergo quarantine.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said that the decision will be in effect until further notice, hence all new flight ticket bookings are postponed effective January 1.
“For pilgrims who return on January 3, they will have to undergo compulsory quarantine at the quarantine station or designated hotels.
“On the other hand, pilgrims who are leaving on January 1 to 7 will also have to undergo quarantine when they return to Malaysia,” he said at a press conference during the Parliament assembly today (January 1).
At the same press conference, Khairy Jamaluddin also informed that about 1,306 Umrah pilgrims were tested positive for COVID-19 between October 13 to December, 2021.
He said the number was from a detection involving 11,108 pilgrims.
Out of the total, 592 cases were detected positive on the first test during the day of arrival in Malaysia and 714 were from the second test during quarantine.
“At the same time, two more cases of Omicron variants were detected yesterday, bringing the total to 64 cases with 63 involving travellers and one suspected local infection.
“Of the 64 cases of COVID-19 infection of the Omicron variant, 32 cases or 50 percent were detected among Umrah pilgrims while as of December 30, there were nine clusters involving Umrah pilgrims,” he said.