The shortened COVID-19 quarantine period of three days for ministers returning home from official duties abroad could be expanded to foreign dignitaries, businessmen and the public soon.

Speaking to news portal Malaysiakini, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said this is to ensure the country's economy remains open.

"We start with ministers first because it is easy to make an order before we open it to the public... maybe businesspersons.

"The reason the government is doing this is to make sure we can open our economy," he was quoted saying last night.

Adham's remark comes following the backlash received over his earlier move to allow cabinet ministers who return from overseas visits to undergo only three days of observation of surveillance, as opposed to the earlier mandatory quarantine of 10 days.

Following the move, the hashtag #AdhamBabaLetakJawatan trended on Malaysian Twitter yesterday. The minister also received flak from former premier Najib Razak and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang.

Adham told Malaysiakini yesterday that foreign dignitaries and businessmen visiting the country, however, would have to abide by strict regulations to minimize possible spread of COVID-19.

Members of the public who are given the leeway to travel in the near future would have to do the same, he stressed.

Citing Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's recent trip to Indonesia, Adham said the latter country did not quarantine the premier despite it having a case count much higher than Malaysia.

Adham also skirted around calls for him to resign over the latest fiasco, saying he has to "uphold his principles."

"That doesn't matter. I have to go to the principles.

"Before, I can lock the country. Now, I can open the country. I have to do something good for our nation."

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 2,764 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths, bringing the total number of cases and fatalities in the country to 248,316, and 909, respectively.

The global coronavirus infection and death tally has surpassed 107 million, and 2.34 million, respectively.

Source: Malaysiakini
Photo source: Astro Awani