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KUALA LUMPUR: The isolation period for confirmed Covid-19 cases has been shortened from seven days to five effective July 5, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa (pix) said.

In a statement today, she said this was because research showed that Covid-19 infectivity was at its highest in the first five days.

She also said that while it was compulsory before for Covid-19 patients to mask up when using public transport and in health facilities, they were now only required (not compulsory) to do so.

Dr Zaliha, however, said that high-risk individuals like senior citizens, those with chronic diseases, individuals with low immunity or pregnant women are strongly encouraged to wear face masks, especially in crowded places and areas with poor ventilation.

She said individuals with respiratory symptoms are also encouraged to mask up while using public transport such as buses, on flights and taxis, including e-hailing services, worker bus/vans and school buses or vans to prevent infection to others.

Meanwhile, Dr Zaliha said the ministry had decided to extend the status of local infection areas in Malaysia, due to end tomorrow, by another six months until Dec 31, 2023, although the Covid-19 situation was not at a worrying level and health services were not under pressure,

This is to facilitate management of the disease as there are risks of the emergence of new variants and sub-variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the country, she said.

“Apart from this, mass gatherings are expected to occur during the Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration and also (coming) state elections, which risk contributing to an increase in cases and burdening the government healthcare service system if prevention and control measures are not fully implemented.

Dr Zaliha said new Covid-19 cases had declined by 53.5 per cent (5,801 cases to 2,698 cases) and deaths dropped by 35.3 per cent (17 cases to 11 cases) in the past five weeks, from Epidemiological Week (ME) 21/2023 to ME 25/2023.

“In terms of hospital capacity, admissions of Covid-19 patients to public hospitals and bed occupancies have dropped while usage of Intensive Care Unit beds remains stable at six per cent in ME 25/2023 compared to ME 24/2023,“ she said. - Bernama