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62 Omicron cases detected in Malaysia so far, shorter booster interval expected

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A total of 62 Covid-19 Omicron variant cases have been detected in Malaysia so far, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Saturday (Dec 25).

Out of these, 61 cases were imported infections while one case is still under investigation and is suspected to be a local transmission.

Mr Khairy said the suspected local infection was reported in Sarawak, and involved a 38-year-old Chinese national working at an engineering company. He had no history of travelling abroad during the three years he has been there.

He underwent the Covid-19 test on Dec 18 after suffering from a fever and cough since Dec 13. "The sample tested positive for Covid-19 and he was admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital on Monday," said Mr Khairy.

He added that the case samples were sent to the Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) for genomic sequencing and were confirmed positive for the Omicron variant on Thursday.

Mr Khairy said the cause of infection has yet to be identified and investigations are still ongoing by the Kuching Divisional Health Office.

He added that the patient is fully vaccinated and his condition is stable. Two of his close contacts had been identified.

Mr Khairy added that the Health Ministry and the Institute for Medical Research had conducted a PCR genotyping test on 145 Covid-19 positive case samples among travellers over the Dec 15-21 period.

Out of these, 60 indicated probabilities of being the Omicron variant and on Friday, 45 were confirmed to be Omicron.

The IHCM at Unimas had separately detected four new cases of the Omicron variant.

"Out of the total 49 new cases, 30 were imported infections from Saudi Arabia, which occurred among travellers who returned to Malaysia after performing the Umrah (pilgrimage). A large number of them did not adhere to the home quarantine regulations," said Mr Khairy.

"They did not isolate themselves from the other family members living in the same house and also accepted guests during the quarantine period," he added.

He advised those travelling overseas especially to Saudi Arabia to get their booster shot, adding that the Ministry will be announcing a shorter interval between the second and third dose next week.

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