The government has scrapped the home quarantine order for Malaysians returning from overseas as well as new foreign arrivals, who must now serve out their 14-day Covid-19 isolation period at designated quarantine stations.
The move follows several cases of People Under Surveillance (PUSs) flouting the strict restrictions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of their home quarantine order.
Arrivals to the country will now be taken directly from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to quarantine centres, said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He said the government views seriously the breach of SOPs, specifically in the case of a woman who had reportedly enjoyed a meal at a restaurant while showing off her government-issued wristband in Perak.
Their lackadaisical attitude, he said, could increase the risk of Covid-19 being transmitted to their family members and the people around them.
“It is clear that that individual had flouted the SOPs as directed by the government. Therefore, the special ministerial meeting on the Movement Control Order (MCO) had decided that starting Friday (July 24), all Malaysians and foreigners entering the country will be placed at quarantine centres set by the government.
“There will be no more mandatory home quarantine like we had before the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).
“Those involved will also have to bear the cost of quarantine, which will be at public training institutes or hotels, based on the cost that was agreed on before,” he said during a press conference at the Parliament building today.
The Senior Defence Minister added that the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and the Health Ministry will immediately identify and gazette public training institutes and hotels as quarantine stations.
Ismail Sabri added that Malaysians returning home do not need to undergo swab tests at their countries of origin, while it is a requirement for foreigners to do so before flying into the country.
He said from June 10 until yesterday (July 20), 22,480 Malaysians returned home via KLIA, of which 78 were taken to hospital.
Yesterday, all 403 Malaysians who arrived via KLIA and klia2 were told to undergo the mandatory home quarantine.
Ismail Sabri expressed worry over the drastic upward trend of Covid-19 cases globally, which will possibly contribute to rising statistics in Malaysia.
He also said the police will no longer just give advice and issue warnings to those who flout social distancing rules under the recovery phase of the country’s movement control order (MCO).
“Many people seem to assume that there are no laws in place, as if the MCO has ended.
“The police have made a decision that there will be no more warnings and advice. They will take stern action on anyone who violates the MCO.
“The government hopes the public will keep on being the eyes and ears for the authorities in reporting any instances where standard operating procedures have been violated,” he said.
The number of new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia has risen by double digits in the past few days, sparking fears of a fresh wave of infections.
Monday was the third straight day of double-digit rise in infections, after the country managed to broadly hold daily growth to single digits since movement controls were eased on June 10. The number of positive cases had climbed by 15 on Sunday, and by 18 two days prior.
Meanwhile, the Perak Health Department has identified the woman who allegedly failed to comply with the Home Surveillance Order (HSO) as well as the restaurant she visited in Bandar Meru Raya, Sg Siput, recently.
State Health, Science, Environment and Green Technology Committee chairman Ahmad Saidi Mohamad Daud said the department, however, was still gathering more information on the incident, which went viral on social media yesterday.
“I advise people who have eaten at the cafe to take precautions and, if they are worried, they can do a Covid-19 test or carry out quarantine at home if they have symptoms,” he said today.
Yesterday, an image of a woman wearing a pink quarantine wristband having food at an eatery in Bandar Meru Raya went viral and received criticism from social media users.
The pink wristband is worn by persons under surveillance under HSO, and who are required to strictly abide by the order for public safety.
Meanwhile, the Perak Fire and Rescue Department’s operations and stations management division chief Muhamad Shahrizal Aris said the department had carried out a sanitisation operation to disinfect the premises involved, as well as several nearby shops.
He said the one-and-a-half-hour operation, which started at 2.30pm, involved six personnel from the Meru Fire and Rescue Station.