Interstate travel - minister tells public to go for swab test voluntarily

Modified 5 Jan 2021, 11:26 am

COVID-19 | Malaysians who plan to travel interstate or interdistrict are encouraged to voluntarily undergo Covid-19 screening before leaving a red zone.

This was the advice given by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob at a press conference today after restrictions on interstate travel were lifted on Dec 7 which reportedly led to new Covid-19 clusters.

Ismail asked the public to take precautionary measures to ensure their own safety while the government makes a decision on interstate and interdistrict travel.

"We have two choices, we can decide to continue allowing interstate and interdistrict travel or we can restrict movement. As of today, we have yet to make a decision.

"The Health Ministry is conducting a risk assessment on interstate and interdistrict travel, especially for areas under a conditional movement control order (MCO).

"While it is studying the matter, I hope the people can take their own initiative to protect themselves and others. For instance, they can undergo a swab test voluntarily, perhaps not to the extent of an RT-PCR test but maybe an RTK antigen testing will do," Ismail said.

As an example, he said individuals who plan to leave Kuala Lumpur, a red zone, for Pahang could go for screening three days before the trip while those coming back from a red zone could also undergo a similar test.

Yesterday, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah linked five new Covid-19 clusters to interdistrict and interstate travel after the activity was allowed on Dec 7.

In Pahang, there were three new clusters reported namely Intan, Semambu and Tembok Mempaga.

Kelantan and Perak, meanwhile, reported the Seragam Chepa and Ehsan Ibol clusters respectively.

Last month, Ismail Sabri announced the lifting of the interdistrict and interstate travel ban after the government decided to end the conditional movement control order (MCO) in most areas.

However, this did not include areas placed under an enhanced MCO.

Ismail had cited the country's potential GDP losses of RM300 million per day if the conditional MCO was continued.

He also said today the cabinet had no plans to convene a special parliamentary sitting to address Covid-19 issues.

"Although there is no special sitting, I believe the strategies by the Health Ministry and others are being implemented to contain Covid-19," he said.

According to him, the cabinet, which sets the agenda for parliamentary sessions, has not discussed the next parliamentary session slated to be held in March.

Last week, DAP's Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang called on the cabinet to arrange a special Dewan Rakyat sitting this month to check the "runaway" third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Lim raised his concern over the surge in Covid-19 cases and said this should be the top of the cabinet's agenda. He said a new strategy to counter the third wave should be announced after the sitting.

The DAP veteran said Malaysia was among the worst-hit Asean countries, pointing out that the number of Covid-19 cases here had surpassed the numbers in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.