PETALING JAYA: The arrival of XBB subvariant could very well trigger a new wave of COVID-19 infections in the country, experts warn.
Although they may not concur whether indoor masking mandate should be reintroduced, they have suggested to the election commission to make it compulsory for voters to put on their masks while inside the polling stations.
Universiti Putra Malaysia virologist Associate Professor Dr. Chee Hui Yee proposed that the government reconsider its masking policy and reinstate indoor masking mandate in anticipation of a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
She told Sin Chew Daily it is necessary for the government to readjust the country’s public health policy, especially on the wearing of face masks in public.
Although only four cases involving the XBB subvariant have been reported in the country so far, Chee believes there could be unreported cases in East Malaysia, as Brunei alone has reported 33 cases.
She proposed that the health ministry suggest to the election commission to at least require voters to put on their face masks at the polling stations.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s public health expert Professor Dr. Victor Hoe feels that it is unnecessary for the government to further tighten the anti-virus measures and reinstate indoor masking mandate because current statistics show that XBB is only a subvariant of Omicron.
He also agreed with the election commission not to set up a special channel for COVID-19 positive voters or people with flu-like symptoms.
“This is because we all know that the transmission risk has existed even before a person presents any symptom of COVID-19.”
Instead, he felt that the EC should draw up a set of SOPs to minimize the risk of infection among voters.
“Wearing face mask and observing hand hygiene can minimize the risk of infection.”