Health minister: Traveller from South Africa on Nov 19 is Malaysia’s first Omicron case

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Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at the ministry’s press conference in Putrajaya November 26, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at the ministry’s press conference in Putrajaya November 26, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Public health officials have detected the first case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the country, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced today.

He said the index case was confirmed after a series of tests conducted on 74 people with Covid-19 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang from November 11 to November 28.

He added that subsequent laboratory tests made the confirmation on December 2.

The index case is a traveller from South Africa who arrived in Malaysia on November 19.

“The case involved a 19-year-old, non-citizen traveller arriving from South Africa via Singapore on November 19, 2021 and has undergone Covid-19 RT-PCR testing upon arrival at KLIA.

“She is a student at a private university in Ipoh, Perak,” the minister said.

Khairy said the index patient had completed her Pfizer vaccination and served out a 10-day quarantine that ended on November 29. She was asymptomatic during her quarantine.

He said she was ferried to the quarantine centre in a bus provided by the university along with five other people.

He added that all five who shared the bus with the index case, including the driver, were also subsequently quarantined even though they tested negative for Covid-19. They have all been released from quarantine since.

However, Khairy said the index case and eight others who had close contact with her have been called back today to undergo PCR swab testing.

“So far none of them are symptomatic. We have called them just to make sure they are not positive,’’ he said.

Khairy gave an assurance that current regulations and strict adherence to Covid-19 SOPs are sufficient to deal with variants of concern, including Omicron.

“For Omicron, what this tells us is that the system works.

“We can capture it and if everyone sticks to the rules, we can contain it, but we all have to accept the possibility of Omicron cases here in Malaysia as there are in other countries as well,’’ he said.

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