On Wednesday, Mr Khairy also said that Putrajaya would temporarily ban non-Malaysians from countries that have reported the spread of the variant or have a high-risk of transmission.
Those who have travelled to those countries within the past 14 days would also not be allowed into the country.
Malaysia has so far banned travel to and from eight countries – South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Mr Khairy said that Malaysians who are travelling from these eight countries and those who have permanent resident status or spouse visas will be allowed to come back but must undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
As for several other countries that have also detected the variant, Mr Khairy said that the authorities would review the information and conduct risk assessments.
“Those countries are being reviewed now and once we have more information and after having done a risk assessment, we will decide whether or not those countries will be included in the list,” he said.
Mr Khairy said that all the measures taken were just temporary until they knew more about the Omicron variant.
“Even though we have put travel restrictions on people coming in from South Africa, this is a temporary measure. The moment we feel that it is safe, we will lift these measures. This is by no means a measure that we have taken to punish these countries.
“Rather, it is more precautionary as far as Malaysia is concerned. We congratulate and thank the South African scientist who detected Omicron, sequenced it and shared it with the world. That speaks volumes of South Africa’s response,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had designated Omicron as a Variant of Concern (VOC), saying that it has a large number of mutations. It said that preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs.
The variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on Nov 24.