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Covid-19: Returnees from Sabah who test negative, show no symptoms need not be quarantined, says Health DG

PUTRAJAYA (Sept 30): It is not compulsory for those returning from Sabah to undergo the 14-day quarantine if they have tested negative for COVID-19, are asymptomatic as well as have had no close contacts with individuals confirmed to be positive, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pictured).

He, however, advised them to practise self-discipline, including staying at home for 14 days.

"They are also advised to go to the District Health Centre or health clinics to undergo swab tests on the 13th day to make sure they are truly free from the virus,” he told a press conference on the COVID-19 development here yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said individuals returning from Sabah who are tested positive would be treated in hospitals while those who are negative but have symptoms and had been in close contacts with positive cases must undergo the mandatory 14-day home quarantine.

They will also wear pink wristbands, he said.

His clarification has allayed the fear among the public following media reports that those returning from Sabah would not need to be quarantined if their swab tests were negative.

The government has, since Sunday (Sept 27), made it compulsory for those returning from Sabah to undergo screening at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA 2 following a spike in cases in several districts in the state.

On suggestions that those returning from Sabah be placed at quarantine centres to avoid a recurrence of the Sivagangga Cluster, Dr Noor Hisham said that could only be done for individuals returning from overseas.

"Home quarantine has been implemented for residents in other states before, including those in Kedah which recorded a high number of cases because of the Sivagangga Cluster.

"For example, we screened residents from red zones in Kota Setar but we did not quarantine them (at quarantine centres). We ensure that we take the same kind of action with other states too,” he said.

As for those having problems with home quarantine and are rejected by hotel managements, they can contact the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) for consideration to be quarantined at Public Training Institutes (ILA).

On requests by the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) for cabin crew to be screened and quarantined following the return of symptomatic passengers from Sabah, Dr Noor Hisham said the crew members were tested periodically.

"We do not carry out daily screening, but the cabin crew members are advised to always comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) as well as to wear face masks and goggles at all times while on duty.

"If they have symptoms, they must undergo quarantine,” he said.

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