Urgent need to contain virus as P3 variant makes its presence

Dr Annuar Rapaee

KUCHING: There is an urgent need to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak with the recent emergence of a new Covid-19 variant.

Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee said it was expected that the Covid-19 would mutate to continue infecting humans.

“Actually, if we delay in bringing down the number of Covid-19 cases, there will be a mutation as the virus adapts.

“What we fear is that it (this variant) will have some resistance to the vaccines that are currently being rolled out. That is why we want the cases to be brought down.

“It is best that we bring the numbers down quickly as we fear this variant will not only spread more quickly but its severity would cause patients to have worse symptoms or complications,” he said in a livestream last Saturday (May 1).

He urged the people to comply strictly with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) to bring down the number of cases.

“Secondly, they must participate in active case detection (ACD) so that we can trace the asymptomatic cases that are causing continuous community transmission,” he said.

Last week, researchers from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) have confirmed the existence of a Covid-19 variant that could be more resistant to vaccines.

Experts from the university’s Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) confirmed that the B.1.1.28.3 or P3 variant had been found in eight samples taken from Kuching and Samarahan recently.

The P3 variant was first reported in the Philippines in March, and was identified in import cases in the UK.

IHCM director Dr David Perera said the variant has greater transmissibility and may escape the neutralising antibody response.

“We strongly urge the public to continue adhering to the SOPs and guidelines, particularly mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing, and the need to achieve herd immunity through the vaccination programme.

“These efforts will help slow virus transmission and reduce the chances of future variants evolving within the community,” said Perera.