The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) generally welcomes the looser COVID-19 restrictions beginning 1 May 2022, but we ask that the country treads cautiously.
We especially welcome the cautious approach of lifting mask mandates in open spaces outdoors whilst maintaining mask mandates indoors and on public transportation including e-hailing vehicles.
We recommend the following:
1. Implement the removal of mask mandates outdoor cautiously
Following the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions including the removal of mask mandates in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, the number of inpatient admissions has increased with high morbidity rates.
In addition to that, only 21% of Malaysian children aged 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of the vaccine; and no vaccinations are available for children below the age of 5.
Children are thus at risk of contracting severe COVID and our policies must protect them. Therefore, the removal of mask mandates in outdoor areas right before Raya holidays should proceed with caution.
2. Strengthen community responsibility, especially testing
With the restrictions lifted, the government should continue to focus on educating the public, especially on self-test reporting to ensure all self-tests are reported.
At the same time, the public must play their part as responsible citizens.
The public should report all self-test results via MySejahtera and undergo home quarantine if their status on MySejahtera profile is high-risk or if they have been issued Home Surveillance Orders (HSO).
3. Reconsider policies if the situation changes
The relaxation of restrictions may be considered appropriate if it is based on sound evidence. However, these policies must not be set in stone.
If the epidemiological, virological or public health situations change, then the policies must be re-considered. Specifically, the Test-and-Release policy allowing for release from quarantine on Day 4 if a supervised RTK Antigen test returns negative may need to be reconsidered.
Aligned with our previous joint statement dated 10 February 2022, we re-emphasize the need to increase our genomic sequencing capacity to detect variants and to inform our public policies.
While Malaysia remains at the ‘transition to endemicity’ stage, we must continue to educate that COVID-19 is still a threat to the collective health of the Rakyat.
Full signature list:
Academy of Medicine Malaysia
Association of Malaysian Optometrists
College of Anesthesiologists
College of Surgeons Academy of Medicine of Malaysia
Malaysian Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology
Malaysian Association of Clinical Biochemists
Malaysian Association of Environmental Health
Malaysian Coalition on Aging
Malaysian Dental Public Health Association
Malaysian Nurses Association
Malaysian Pharmacists Society
Malaysian Society of Anesthesiologists
Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology
Malaysian Society of Occupational Safety and Health
Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia
Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of Malaysia
Perinatal Society of Malaysia
Public Health Malaysia
Dato’ Dr Amar Singh-HSS
Dr Khor Swee Kheng
Prof Dr Asri Sai
Prof Dr Roslina Abdul Manap
Prof Dr Zaleha Abdullah Mahdy