Health Ministry mulls usage of face mask in school after Covid-19 resurgence 

THE Health Ministry will propose the usage of face masks in all schools again to avoid a resurgence of Covid-19 due to the new variant known as XBBB.1.16, or Arcturus.

A business daily reported Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said she would soon convene an urgent meeting with Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek to discuss the matter ahead of the reopening of schools on May 2.

She promised new guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for pupils will be issued prior to the reopening of schools.

“I will meet Fadhlina this week to discuss guidelines and why we need to control the spread of Covid-19 in schools, especially with the new Arcturus variant.

“The SOPs and control measures to curb the spread of the virus will be issued as a precautionary measure for all schools.

“This is important. If any student gets infected after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration and travels, it may easily lead to an outbreak at schools,” she said as reported by the daily.

Recently the Ministry of Health (MOH) has detected six new cases of the new XBB.1.16 variant in the Klang Valley, which brings the total number of infected cases to 12 so far.

On Monday, Dr Zaliha said four of these new cases were detected in Selangor, while two other cases were from the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. The six earlier cases were detected in Sarawak.

Dr Zaliha said people infected with Arcturus, which is also a subvariant to Omicron, were found to only experience mild symptoms and they are reported to be stable.

She said while the Health Ministry will suggest necessary measures to control any spread of Covid-19 at schools, the final decision lies with the Education Ministry.

“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 spread of infection.

“If they experience symptoms of infection, they should wear a face mask and maintain social distancing as practised before this while also seeking medical help,” she said. — TMR / pic credit: WHO