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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has granted conditional approval for the use of Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11 years old, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The country's drugs regulator has also cleared a vaccine made by Chinese firm CanSino Biologics to be used as a booster shot for adults over the age of 18, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement.

Malaysia, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in Southeast Asia, last week cut waiting times to encourage more people to take a booster jab, in a bid to stem the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

BioNTech, Pfizer vaccine neutralises Omicron with three shots

Most of the country's population has received two doses of the vaccine, including nearly 98% of adults and 88% of those aged between 12 and 17, government statistics show.

Malaysia has reported 245 Omicron cases, the majority of which were Muslim pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia, Khairy said.

The country will temporarily suspend all religious trips to Saudi Arabia for a month from Saturday, he added.

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