Minister: I Didn’t Meet Covid Infected MOTAC Officer

Nancy Shukri says she was not listed as a close contact; close contact is defined as physically touching or being within 1-metre proximity with a person who has Covid-19.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri said she attended Parliament yesterday, despite a Covid-19 case at her ministry’s Putrajaya headquarters, because she was not a close contact of the patient.

“First and foremost, I was never in contact nor saw the officer,” Nancy told CodeBlue.

“My name was not even in the list of the close contacts. As I said, I never saw nor have been working with the officer who was identified as positive Covid-19,” added the Batang Sadong MP from GPS.

She also pointed out that throughout the Parliament meeting, she only worked in her Kuala Lumpur office, not in Putrajaya.

The Sarawakian lawmaker said she took precautions by voluntarily going for a swab test for Covid-19 on the evening of November 25, getting a negative result yesterday morning, before she did another swab test in Parliament yesterday.

Then she attended the Dewan Rakyat sitting, where she presented her winding-up speech on Budget 2021.

Before her speech, several lawmakers had questioned why Nancy was present in the House, with Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik citing a circular from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) that ordered all staff and officers to self-quarantine after a Covid-19 case was found at MOTAC’s office on November 25.

MOTAC issued a statement at 10.10am yesterday announcing that a MOTAC officer had tested positive for Covid-19 and that its Putrajaya office was sanitised last Wednesday evening.

MOTAC had also said Nancy had no direct contact with the infected officer, but added that all ministry officers and staff working at the Putrajaya headquarters were ordered to work from home in self-quarantine effective yesterday. Aside from quarantine for arrivals from abroad, health authorities typically order a 14-day quarantine only for close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases; close contact is defined as physically touching or being within 1-metre proximity with a person who has Covid-19 within 14 days from the date of infection.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun told Muhammad Bakhtiar yesterday that Nancy had tested negative for Covid-19, to which the PKR lawmaker replied that quarantine was still required since the virus had a 14-day incubation period.

The public have questioned the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) decision to lift the 14-day quarantine rule for Sabah arrivals in other parts of the country effective November 25, with only a Covid-19 swab test required prior to departure from Sabah.

Keningau MP Jeffrey Kitingan attended the Dewan Rakyat sitting on November 24, less than 14 days after he attended the Sabah state legislative assembly sitting in Kota Kinabalu on November 12, with Speaker Azhar saying that MOH had given the STAR lawmaker, aligned with the ruling Perikatan Nasional government, a release order on November 23.

Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin from Umno attended Parliament yesterday, ahead of a crucial policy vote for Budget 2021, after returning from Kota Kinabalu the day before. Sabah continues to record hundreds of Covid-19 cases daily and new clusters, though fresh infections have been on the decline over the past week. Malaysia reported over 10,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past eight days, hitting a cumulative 60,752 infections as of yesterday.

Update on Nov 29: This article was updated with additional comments from Nancy Shukri in paragraph 4.

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