Sarawak detects highly infectious Omicron variant cases

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KUCHING: Sarawak has detected cases of the highly infectious Omicron variants namely the BA.2.12. 1 and the BA.5 recently.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) director Prof Dr David Perera said a total of 1,229 samples were successfully sequenced from March 1 to June 16.

“All were detected as the B.1.1.529 Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC). These samples represented positive cases obtained state-wide,” he said in his report to the Chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas here today.

From these, he said, BA.2 continued to be the dominant circulating sub variant 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,” he said.

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

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

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

In the light of this development, Dr Perera advised the general public 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,” he stressed.

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