KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 – The federal government has reinstated its work from home guidance, asking employers to allow their workers to work remotely where possible, as Malaysia grapples with another five-digit rise in Covid cases as Omicron spreads.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the Ministry of Health (MOH), following a discussion with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and central bank governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus earlier today, has recommended employers to allow flexible work arrangements — either via working remotely or having work from home rotations — to try and minimise the risk of possible transmission.
“Although we are convinced with the Covid-19 vaccination programme (against Omicron), we do want to reduce a bit the mobility over the next few weeks for us to have better control — just to blunt the rise of Omicron,” Khairy told a news conference in Putrajaya today.
The MOH is also advising employers to provide “high-quality” masks and tests for their staff, especially those who display Covid symptoms.
“I think we should encourage people to go for high-quality masks, either N95 or the KF94 that I’m wearing, or use the cloth mask with a surgical mask underneath, that is still okay.
“We’ve sent out, for instance, to all the B40 (bottom 40 per cent income) households, four cloth masks — to be worn with a surgical mask — that offers good protection also, but where possible, employers should provide employees with the better quality masks.
“Masks are important. Good-quality masks, of course, help a lot in cutting transmission,” he said in response to CodeBlue’s query on the face mask type that MOH recommends.
A real-world study published by the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week found that N95 and KN95 masks offered the best protection from the coronavirus, compared to 66 per cent for surgical masks and 56 per cent for cloth masks.
N95 masks can filter both large droplets and the smaller aerosols that may contain the airborne virus. N95s are also especially efficient, filtering out about 95 per cent of airborne particles.
Khairy also recommended businesses to seek incentives from the MOF to improve ventilation in buildings as a precaution to reduce the potential airborne transmission of the virus.
The country registered 11,034 new Covid cases today, an increase from 10,089 new infections on Monday, with 20 clusters or 22.5 per cent of the 89 coronavirus clusters identified last week (Epid Week 5) linked to workplaces.
Clusters in educational settings continue to make up the bulk (58.4 per cent) of virus clusters that have emerged.