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By Nur Natasha Aida Ismail
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 -- As excitement mounts with the public exodus to hometowns or go on vacation in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebrations, people should not forget the importance of health protocols while the country is still facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, public health specialist and epidemiologist Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar reminded the public to be honest by doing a self-test if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 before embarking on any journey.
He also suggested that those who are asymptomatic should also self-test, taking into account the situation of COVID-19 which is still spreading including the Omicron variant.
“Currently, although COVID-19 cases are increasing, most of them are in categories one and two. What is more important is that before returning home or going on holiday, ensure you complete the vaccination including booster dose, wear a face mask and practise physical distancing.
"Besides that, self-testing can also be done before pushing off to a destination and after returning from a trip, especially it it was a high-risk area," he said when contacted by Bernama here today.
He added that it would be better if those with symptoms opt to stay back and refrain from going anywhere to reduce the risk.
Sharing the same view, public health expert (epidemiology and biostatistics) from Universiti Putra Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said celebrants who will be receiving guests should also do a self-test.
“Those who want to visit their parents are also advised to ensure that their parents have taken the booster dose… (and) also take the opportunity of walk-in vaccination centres to receive it.
"Besides that, avoid big gatherings or activities involving very large numbers because we need to acknowledge there are cases rising at this time and this is not only observed in our country but other countries as well," she said.
She said the public still needed to be vigilant and early preventive measures were better to avoid an explosion of new COVID-19 cases.
New COVID-19 cases in the country continued to rise for four consecutive days with 5,522 cases reported today.
Last Wednesday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the wave of the Omicron variant transmission had begun in the country and was expected to increase the number of COVID-19 cases.
He, however, said that currently the wave of infections was under control because the vaccination rate in the country was high.