According to health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the government has issued a travel ban to seven African countries due to concerns about a new Covid-19 variant that has been detected on the continent.
He said the variant has yet to be detected in Malaysia.
South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe will be off-limits to visitors starting tomorrow.
Citizens and those with work permits from these countries will be allowed to return, but they will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine at designated centres, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
Those with plans to visit any of the seven countries, according to Khairy, will be temporarily barred from travelling, and so to those who have already visited these countries.
"The health ministry takes the emergence of this new variant seriously," he said at a press conference.
"We will improve genomic surveillance, including on arriving individuals from countries where this new variant has been reported."
In addition to parts of Southern Africa, the new variant – B.1.1.529 – has been found in Hong Kong and Israel, and some experts believe it is more infectious and immune-resistant.
According to Khairy, the new variant has 32 mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, roughly twice as many as the Delta variant, which had caused worldwide outbreaks. The variant was first discovered in the South African province of Gauteng, according to The Guardian of the United Kingdom, and may already be present in other parts of the country.
According to the report, scientists believe that 90 percent of new cases in Gauteng could be of the B.1.1.529 variant.