Mutated, more-transmissible COVID-19 strain found in Malaysia

Malaysians have been thrown so many curveballs in the past 2 days. First, MCO was reimplemented in Selangor, Sabah, Penang, Johor, Melaka, and all Federal Territories following the surge in COVID-19 cases. Then, a state of emergency was declared by Agong the very next morning, and now, the mutated COVID-19 variant that is said to be anywhere from 50-70% more contagious, first detected in the UK, has reached Malaysia.

Virus found in traveller who returned from the UK

tan sri noor hisham at a press conference
Image credit: Majlis Keselamatan Negara

According to report by The Star, Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed the news on 11th January.

He revealed that the mutated virus was detected from a traveller who came back from the UK last December. The traveller, who has since been in isolated treatment, had a positive test result on 28th December.

Thankfully, there hasn’t been an outbreak from the new variant as of 11th January.

New COVID-19 variant is more contagious

covid 19 test tube
Image credit: Unsplash, @lomash_s

The mutated strain, named B117, was first detected in the UK in September 2020. Though it is too early to tell, and the figures are still being confirmed, the virus is apparently 70% more transmissible, according to a report by BBC. Its rapid rate of infection is said to be the cause behind UK’s latest lockdown, as a quarter of the cases reported in London by November last year, are caused by this new mutated strain.

While this particular strain is highly infectious and spreads much quicker and more easily, news sources are saying that it is not proven to be more fatal.

The Health Ministry has also been monitoring and conducting tests on travellers who have returned from countries where the mutated variant is present. These places other than the UK include the Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey, Philippines, and India.

More importantly, health officials have been reassuring the public that the existing vaccines will work against this new variant as the vaccines are developed in a way that prompts the immune system to destroy several components of the virus, even if some parts of it has mutated.

Daily COVID-19 cases reached another record high yesterday

The latest daily COVID-19 cases in Malaysia spiked to a new all-time high yesterday at 12th January. 3,309 positive cases were confirmed, with Selangor alone making up 1,007 of those cases. The second highest came from Johor at 442 cases in the state.

The numbers are definitely worrying but hopefully, this second round of MCO will help to flatten the curve once and for all. In the meantime, stay home and take good care, Malaysians.

Stay alert with more COVID-19 updates here:

Cover image adapted from: Majlis Keselamatan Negara and Unsplash, @lomash_s

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