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Malaysia further tightens COVID-19 testing regime for VTL travellers

Malaysia further tightens COVID-19 testing regime for VTL travellers

A passengers walks out after taking a COVID-19 test at Larkin bus station in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on Nov 29, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR: Travellers entering Malaysia via the air and land vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) from Wednesday (Dec 8) will have to undergo COVID-19 tests daily for six days on arrival as the country further tightens measures in light of the Omicron variant. 

The new requirement will also apply to those arriving under the Langkawi international travel bubble (LITB) and One Stop Centre for short-term business visitors.

In a statement on Tuesday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the new measures were intended to prevent the transmission and spread of the Omicron variant in the country.

"Travellers under these categories must undergo COVID-19 detection test upon arrival in Malaysia, RTK-Ag test or rapid antigen test (self-test) on the second, fourth and sixth day after arrival.

“They would also need to undergo a professional RTK-Ag test on the third and fifth day after arriving. LITB travellers are required to undergo an RT-PCR test at least 48 hours earlier before leaving Langkawi island," said Khairy, adding that all test results must be reported via the MySejahtera application.

The RTK-Ag test is equivalent to the antigen rapid test (ART) available in Singapore. 

The Health Ministry said in a separate statement on Facebook that professionally administered RTK-Ag tests were still accepted for pre-departure requirements for those travelling via the land VTL.

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test remains mandatory for those who are flying into the country.

This test must be taken 48 hours prior to travel, Khairy said as quoted by the Bernama news agency, a more stringent requirement compared to the previous pre-departure testing time frame of 72 hours. 

The updated requirements are the latest in a string of revisions to the COVID-19 testing protocols for VTL travellers between Singapore and Malaysia. 

One day before the launch of the air and land VTLs between the two countries on Nov 29, Singapore announced that on-arrival ARTs would be compulsory for all arrivals via land

On Dec 1, Malaysia stipulated that travellers had to take additional self-administered tests on Day 3 and Day 7 after arrival. 

 

Singapore further tightened its COVID-19 testing scheme with effect from Dec 7, with all travellers entering the country via the VTL required to undergo tests daily for seven days on arrival.

OTHER INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS

All arrivals from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, France and Norway will be required to wear a digital tracking device throughout their mandatory quarantine period. 

This is because these five countries have reported cases of the Omicron variant in the community, said Khairy. 

The quarantine duration will be determined by the individual's vaccination status. 

Malaysian citizens and long-term visit pass holders returning from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi must similarly don a digital tracking device while serving their mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated isolation centres. 

On Nov 27, Malaysia temporarily restricted travel from these eight countries following concerns over the new coronavirus strain. 

Khairy on Dec 3 announced that Malaysia had detected its first Omicron case. The student from South Africa had arrived in Malaysia on Nov 19 after transiting in Singapore.

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Source: Agencies/jt(zl)

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