Ministers returning from official duties overseas are now exempted from Section 15 the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) from tomorrow onwards, a check on the e-Federal Gazette showed.
The gazettement of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Exemption) Order 2021 is dated February 2, but takes retrospective effect from February 9, tomorrow until August 1 which spans the entirety of the state of emergency.
“The Cabinet of Ministers who returns from any overseas official visit shall undergo observation for three days or undergo surveillance until be discharged without danger to the public,” the condition of exemption reads.
Section 15 of Act 342 pertains to observation or surveillance of contacts and that an authorized officer may order any contact to undergo observation in such place and for such period as he may think fit, or to undergo surveillance until he may be discharged without danger to the public.
The gazette was signed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
The health minister is empowered under Section 29 of Act 342 to exempt any person, article, vehicle, human remains or tissues, animals and any pathogenic substances from the operation of any of the Act’s provisions or any regulations made under the Act.
“Subject to paragraph 3, the Minister exempts the Cabinet of Ministers who returns from any overseas official visit from the application of section 15 of the Act,” the exemption order stated.
Currently, Malaysian returnees are required to undergo a 10-day mandatory quarantine at home even if they test negative for Covid-19 upon arrival.
Last year, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali came under fire when it was revealed that he had not undergone the mandatory home quarantine as required at the time.
Khairuddin had travelled to Turkey on July 3 with the prime minister’s permission, and had tested negative for Covid-19 on his return.
In the wake of public criticism, the Health Ministry said an enforcement officer had issued a compound of RM1,000 to Khairuddin on August 7 over the failure to comply with rules under the 1988 law or Act 342, while also confirming that Khairuddin had paid the compound.
Two months later, the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) said Khairuddin had not been charged with breaching quarantine rules because of a lack of sufficient evidence.
The AGC said no home surveillance or observation order had been issued by an authorised officer to the minister as required under Section 15 of the act.