Our Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has finally announced in a public health committee meeting that wearing face masks in enclosed spaces is optional. The indoor mask mandate has been dropped with immediate effect on Wednesday, September 7, due to the high vaccination rate in the country and the dropping of COVID-19 cases. He said the ministry made the decision to do away with mask mandates after taking into consideration the improving Covid-19 situation in the country.
“Until the end of December this year (2022), the government still reserves the right to re-enact Act 342 throughout the country should the Covid-19 situation worsen,” he added.
Khairy encouraged the continued use of face masks in crowded areas such as night markets, stadiums, shopping centers, and houses of worship. Those with symptoms such as fever and cough are also encouraged to wear masks, as well as those who are involved in activities with those in the high-risk group such as children and senior citizens.
Children aged five to 12 with comorbidities or those who are immunocompromised meanwhile can be given a first booster dose within six to nine months after the last dose of vaccine received. While children between six months and five years of age with comorbidities or who are immunocompromised can likewise be vaccinated against Covid-19. Khairy said the procurement process for vaccines is formulated especially for this age group.
What will happen to Classroom Learning?
The Education and Care facilities will still follow the Reopening Safety Guidelines which is maintaining physical distancing between individuals is safer than crowding and wearing a face mask is safer than being mask-off.
Also, Malaysian Medical Association, President Dr. Koh Kar Chai had urged the government to review its policy on the mandatory wearing of face masks in enclosed spaces as the number of Covid-19 cases had reached a “plateau of sorts” and the hospitalization rate due to the virus was at a manageable level.
Therefore, while it seems that the government has done away with most restrictions, it’s important to remember that the country is still in the endemic transition phase and has yet to achieve endemicity. Teachers in school must be aware of the student’s health as most of the population has been vaccinated and boosted, the MoH is still reporting thousands of daily cases, so we are definitely not out of the woods just yet.
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