However, Dr Zaliha stressed that face masks will still be required for individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19, as well as for healthcare workers who are following infection control protocols when dealing with patients.
Starting from July 5, the Ministry of Health announced that face masks will no longer be obligatory when using public transportation or in hospitals.
However, its minister, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, also noted that face masks will still be required for individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19, as well as for healthcare workers who are following infection control protocols when dealing with patients.
She also added that it is strongly recommended that high-risk individuals in crowded and poorly ventilated areas, individuals experiencing symptoms of respiratory illnesses, and commuters utilizing public transportation continue to wear masks.
As reported by The Straits Times , these relaxed guidelines are aligned with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration that Covid-19 was no longer a public health emergency of international concern.
She also added that these decisions were on par with the declining Covid-19 rates in Malaysia as well.
Over the last five weeks, the number of new Covid-19 cases has shown a decrease of 53.5 per cent (5,801 cases to 2,698 cases) and deaths related to Covid-19 have decreased by 35.3 per cent (17 cases to 11 cases)Dr. Zaliha Mustafa
On the other hand, Dr Zaliha mentioned that the quarantine period for Covid-19 patients will also be reduced from seven days from the onset of symptoms to five days, starting from July 5.
Furthermore, it was also stated that Malaysia will remain classified as an infected area under the Prevention of Infectious Diseases Act until 31 December, even though the Covid-19 situation is no longer a significant concern.
She explained that this extension is necessary due to the potential risk of new variants and sub-variants of Covid-19 emerging in Malaysia.
While the announcement of the long awaited relaxation on the mask mandates came as a relief to some, several Twitter users expressed their opinions and concerns regarding the changes in Covid-19 guidelines.
Twitter user @aaron16denison expressed concern about the belief that Covid-19 is no longer a threat, emphasizing the risk of Long Covid and the potential long-term health effects.
He questioned how many times people needed to experience multiple infections before realising the dangers to their respiratory system and lungs.
Another Twitter user @Shangkee0808 called for mandatory mask-wearing in hospitals, citing the risk of visitors bringing in diseases to immunocompromised individuals and then taking new diseases back home, perpetuating a cycle of infection.
On the other hand, @rincredible stated their intention to continue wearing masks in crowded places to protect themselves from airborne illnesses, including Covid-19.
They also mentioned the benefits of avoiding dust allergies and reducing the need for antihistamines.
They also added that they frequently visit their parents as well and would not want to pass down any sort of illness to them.
Meanwhile, Twitter user @awkward_penyu acknowledged that while masks were no longer mandatory, it is encouraged that individuals wear them if they felt unsafe, particularly in crowded LRTs.