Covid-19: Another 30 variants of concern detected in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (May 2): The Health Ministry has detected another 30 Covid-19 variants of concern (VOC) in Malaysia – 27 of the South African variant (B.1.351) and three of the United Kingdom (UK) variant (B.117).

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the cases were detected through 59 whole genome sequencing conducted between April 24 and yesterday by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR).

“This is also the first report of the South African VOC in Perak and Kelantan, involving some significant clusters with 10 cases in each state. In addition, we are still detecting the variant in Selangor with seven cases.

“For the UK variant, two cases were detected in Selangor and one case in Sandakan, Sabah (first report of VOC in Sabah), involving a non-Malaysian. This is also the first report of the variant among persons without a history of travel to overseas, hence, suggesting local transmission,” he said in a statement today.

Besides VOC, Dr Adham said the first case of a variant of interest involving Indian variant (B.1.617) was also detected from an Indian national that was screened at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

To date, he said Malaysia has recorded 48 cases of the South African variant, eight cases of the UK variant, one Indian variant and two Nigerian variant (B.1.525), as well as one case of C lineage (C.36) from a person with a history of travel to Egypt.

“We also find that there is a gradual increase in the number of VOCs, especially the South African variants, among the samples that we are performing full genome sequencing, suggesting potential replacement of the VOC (B.1.351) of the local lineage (B.1.524),” he added.

Dr Adham advised the public to remain calm and cooperate to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.

“All public health actions to break the chain of infection need to be taken for the safety of the rakyat,” he added.

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