Dr Sim: New Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant will eventually reach Sarawak, get boosted before it’s too late

Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Nov 27: The new Omicron (B.1.1.529) Covid-19 variant of concern (VOC) will eventually reach Sarawak, warns Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

The Minister for Local Government and Housing thus urged all Sarawakians to arrange for their booster jabs as soon as possible, especially when Sinovac and AstraZeneca are also allowed as booster doses now.

With the flight frequency to Sarawak increased to over 300 flights weekly, he said the arrival of Omicron in Sarawak was “inevitable”.

“It is only a matter of time before the new variant reaches Malaysia and then Sarawak. With the high traffic in and out of Sarawak, it will eventually come to Sarawak.

“So, before that happens, let’s protect ourselves and boost our antibodies. Everyone, please cooperate to protect yourselves and protect Sarawak,” he said during Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng’s Facebook live streaming session today.

Omicron was today classified as a VOC by the World Health Organisation (WHO), following discovery by health experts that the variant has a large number of mutations that contain some worrying characteristics.

It is believed that Omicron not only has higher transmissibility, but also increased antibody resistance. Experts fear that it has greater potential to escape prior immunity than other existing variants.

As of today, the Omicron variant genomes have been identified in South Africa, Israel, Botswana and Hong Kong.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had yesterday (Nov 26) announced a travel ban, preventing Malaysians from visiting South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, which takes effect from today until further notice.

All foreigners with travel history to the mentioned South African countries within the last 14 days will also be temporarily banned from entering Malaysia while Malaysian citizens and permanent residents returning from those countries will need to undergo compulsory quarantines. — DayakDaily