Malaysia detects nine cases of South African B.1.351 Covid-19 variant, says Health DG

KUALA LUMPUR (April 2): The B.1.351 strain of the Covid-19 virus — which was first reported in the UK and South Africa last December — is being transmitted locally, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

In a statement, he said, nine cases of this strain were detected so far — all in Kuala Langat, Selangor.

According to him, the South African B.1.351 was first detected in the country earlier this month, with four cases found. Early investigations found all four cases were closely linked to the Jalan Lima cluster that spanned the Sepang and Hulu Langat districts in Selangor, said Dr Noor Hisham.

"Two of the cases believed to be from the Jalan Lima cluster were employees of a company based in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. However, it is difficult to identify and confirm how these employees got infected," he said. Of the remaining two cases, one was from the Kebun Baru cluster, and one was a family member of an infected Covid-19 patient.

Following the discovery of these first four cases and further genome sequencing analysis done on samples of Covid-19 infections found in Kuala Langat and Sepang, five more patients were found to have been infected by this variant — one more from the Jalan Lima cluster and four more from the Kebun Baru cluster — bringing the total identified to nine.

The Jalan Lima cluster was identified on Feb 5 and declared ended by the Ministry on March 29, with 57 cases recorded. The Kebun Baru cluster in Kuala Langat was reported on Dec 24 last year and is still active, with 1,111 infections reported. It is expected to end on April 25 if no further new cases are reported.

Malaysia yesterday recorded 1,178 new Covid-19 cases, down from 1,482 on Wednesday, bringing cumulative coronavirus infections in the country to 346,678.


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