First Omicron Covid-19 case detected in Malaysia

2021 has been a roller-coaster ride for most Malaysians as we have gone through various stages of the movement control order as Covid-19 cases reached an all-time high in the country.

Although things are slowly returning to normalcy now, as most people are vaccinated, the health ministry revealed today its shocking discovery of the first Covid-19 Omicron variant case in the country.

New Covid-19 variant detected in foreign student from South Africa

Omicron variant in Malaysia
Image credit: Khairy Jamaluddin

Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin confirmed today Malaysia’s first Omicron Covid-19 case in a press meeting with reporters at Putrajaya. He said the new virus variant was detected on 2nd December 2021, in samples collected from a 19-year-old foreign student from South Africa.

According to The Star, the private university student in Ipoh arrived in Malaysia from South Africa via transit through Singapore on 19th November 2021. She underwent an RT-PCR swab test upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and a mandatory 10-day quarantine at a facility provided by the university before receiving the positive results for her swab test.

Khairy also confirmed that while in quarantine, the student, who has been fully vaccinated as of 29th September, did not show any symptoms. However, all of the student’s close contacts, including four passengers, a bus driver, two housemates and a university employee, have been instructed to undergo mandatory quarantine and RT-PCR swab tests.

Image credit: Governor Tom Wolf

“The case has been given a Surveillance and Observation Order under Section 15 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Act 342),” Khairy was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.

The Covid-19 Omicron variant, B.1.1.529, was classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on 26th November 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa by scientists, but is rapidly spreading to other parts of the world.

Following the discovery, Malaysia’s health ministry imposed entry restrictions on 1st December, on foreign workers and international students from eight African countries – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi. These restrictions will be in place until further notice.

Omicron Covid-19 case detected in Malaysia

It’s indeed shocking that another highly infectious variant of Covid-19 has successfully made its way into Malaysian shores when we are ready to bid farewell to 2021.

Nonetheless, we believe that the health ministry is doing its best to prevent this variant from spreading further into the community. While mitigation efforts are ongoing, it’s important for everyone to observe health SOPs for public safety.

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Cover image adapted from: Noor Hisham Abdullah and Governor Tom Wolf

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