The Ministry of Health (MOH) will recommend that the wearing of face masks be implemented again in all schools due to fears of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.This will counter the spread of a new variant known as XBB.1.16 or Arcturus.
Following that, the Minister of Health, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, said that she will hold an immediate meeting with the Minister of Education, Fadhlina Sidek, to discuss the matter to curb the re-contagion of COVID-19 in schools.
She said that the guidelines regarding standard operating procedures (SOP) involving pupils and students in schools will be issued before they start school on May 2 after the Aidilfitri holiday.
“I will meet Fadhlina this week as well to discuss the guidelines on why we need to control the spread of COVID-19 in schools, especially after the new variant Arcturus has surfaced.
“The SOP regarding the control of COVID-19 will be issued before students return to school on May 2 as a precautionary measure.
“This is important because we are worried if any students get infected after moving here and there during the Raya holidays which may cause COVID-19 to spread again in the school,” she said.
Yesterday, Dr Zaliha revealed that six cases of the new variant of COVID-19 XBB1.16 or Arcturus were detected in the Klang Valley, bringing the number of infected cases to 12 so far.
Of that number, four new cases of the variant were detected in Selangor, while two more in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, in addition to the initial six cases in Sarawak.
However, she said, the individual infected with Arcturus, which is also a subvariant to Omicron, was found to have only mild symptoms and was reported to be stable.
Dr Zaliha said that although her side suggested that measures to control COVID-19 be made in schools after this festive holiday, the final decision depends on whether the Ministry of Education (KPM) implements them or not.
“Parents do not need to panic with the spread of this new variant, but we still encourage all parties, including students to continue wearing face masks to curb the spread.
“If they experience symptoms of infection, they not only need to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing but also need to have a health checkup with a doctor,” she said.