KUALA LUMPUR (June 25):  Another six Covid-19 cases linked to variants of concern (VOC) were detected in Malaysia from June 20 to 22, raising the total number of VOC cases to 173.
Five of the new VOC cases were linked to the Beta variant (B.1.351), also known as the South Africa variant, with two cases reported in Penang, and one each in Sabah, Kedah and Perlis, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The sixth VOC case was of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), also known as the Indian variant, and it was reported in Negeri Sembilan, he said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the VOC category of SARS-CoV-2 as a variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease, significant reduction in neutralisation by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

Besides the VOC category, the variant of interest (VOI) of SARS-CoV-2 is also present in the country.

The VOI category of SARS-CoV-2 is defined by the CDC as a variant with specific genetic markers associated with changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralisation by antibodies generated against previous infection or vaccination, reduced efficacy of treatments, potential diagnostic impact, or a predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity.

To date, Malaysia’s cumulative number of SARS-CoV-2 cases categorised under the VOC and VOI segments is 189, said Dr Noor Hisham in a statement.  Of this, 173 are VOC cases and 16 are VOI cases.

Due to the spread of VOC in the community, the Government has tightened standard operating procedures (SOPs) for those travelling into the country to reduce the risk of importing Covid-19 variants.

Among the updated SOPs for all travellers are that they must undergo PRC Covid-19 testing three days before their departure date and upon arrival into the country, while the mandatory quarantine period extended to 21 days for travellers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

Travellers entering Malaysia from other countries are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period depending on the risk assessment.

Covid-19 PCR tests will be repeated on the 10th day of quarantine for those undergoing 14-day quarantine.

Malaysia reported 5,841 new Covid-19 infections yesterday, bringing the tally nationwide to 716,847.

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