PUTRAJAYA, Jan 6 – Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today announced that data was pointing at Umrah returnees from Arab Saudi as the single largest source for the high number of Omicron cases in the country.
Taking this view into account, he said the temporary ban on pilgrimage to Mecca will continue for another month effective this Saturday, January 8.
The situation will be reviewed from time to time based on the risk factors both in Arab Saudi and internally before a decision is taken to allow again the trips. No flight booking for Umrah has been allowed effective January 1 this year.
Khairy said the decision was based on the projection that if left uncontrolled, the number of Omicron cases could rise significantly to the region of 15,000.
While the Omicron is said to be less severe than the Delta variant, it spreads very fast and will involve hospitalisation and this in turn will put a tremendous strain on hospitals that have just started to recover and looking into a backlog of non-Covid-19 cases and surgeries, he said.