Covid-19: Highly infectious Omicron variant cases detected, public told to be on alert, get booster shot

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KUCHING, June 23: Cases of the highly infectious Covid-19 Omicron variants, namely the BA.2.12.1 and the BA.5 variant have been detected in the State recently.

Director of the Institute of Health and Community Medicine of University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Prof Dr David Perera disclosed this in his report to the Chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas here today.

He reported the surveillance data for Covid-19 positive cases from March 1 to June 16 this year, stating that a total of 1,229 samples were successfully sequenced over the period.


“All were detected as the B.1.1.529 Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC). These samples represented positive cases obtained Statewide,” said Dr Perera in his report.

From these, he said, BA.2 continued to be the dominant circulating subvariant and with its multiple minor sub-lineages detected.

“However, in the last week of May, we detected the first incidences of the highly infectious BA.2.12.1 from a case in Kuching and a BA.5 from a case in Sibu.

“Subsequently, an additional case of BA 2.12.1 and three cases of BA.5 were detected in Kuching through the second and third week of June.

“The WHO (World Health Organisation) had previously flagged both these sub-lineages as highly infectious with faster transmission rates over the parent Omicron VOC,” said Perera.

He said the BA 2.12.1, first detected in the USA, continues to be the dominant driver of infections in that country.

The BA.5, first detected in South Africa, meanwhile, has caused recent uptick in cases of Covid-19 in multiple countries worldwide.

“In the light of this development, the general public is strongly advised to be aware of the heightened risk of an increase in infection rates in the State.

“They are strongly advised as well to get their booster shot if they have not done so, particularly for individuals with comorbidities and those above 60-years-old,” said Dr Perera.  — DayakDaily