PETALING JAYA: The health ministry will propose making face masks mandatory in schools to curb a surge of Covid-19 cases following the spread of the XBB.1.16 variant, otherwise known as Arcturus.
According to New Straits Times, health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said she will be holding an urgent meeting with her counterpart in the education ministry, Fadhlina Sidek, before schools reopen on May 2.
Zaliha said any new guidelines and SOPs for students will be issued before schooling resumes as a form of precautionary measure.
“This is important. If any student gets infected after the Aidilfitri celebrations and travels, it may easily lead to an outbreak in schools,” she said, adding that the final decision was the education ministry’s to make.
“Parents need not panic when it comes to the spread of this new variant. However, we highly encourage all parties, including students, to continue wearing face masks to curb any infection.
“If they experience symptoms of (Covid-19), they should wear a face mask and maintain social distancing as practised before this while also seeking medical help.”
Twelve cases of the Arcturus variant have been detected, with six in the Klang Valley and the remaining in Sarawak.
Arcturus is a subvariant of Omicron, a variant that is said to be highly transmissible and less susceptible to vaccines. It is believed to be driving the surge in infections in countries like India.
Zaliha said those infected with the Omicron subvariant usually experienced mild symptoms and were in stable condition.