KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Malaysia has detected the Omicron BA.5 variant of Covid-19 locally and will likely see infections rise as a result, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
Citing global data, he said BA.5 was shown to be more contagious than others before it and has become the dominant variant in several countries.
“If we look at other countries’ epidemiology, the BA.5 variant is the main sub-lineage which caused the rise in cases. This will also be the main sub-lineage that will contribute to the increase in cases in Malaysia,” he told a press conference at the Parliament building here today.
According to Khairy, BA.5 was especially worrying as it was the most contagious Covid-19 variant to date and because previous infections did not appear to confer any protection against it.
“The BA.5 has an immune escape property element and if you have already been infected by Omicron (initial variants BA.1 and BA.2), you can be infected again by the BA.5 variant,” he said, indicating that this situation has also caused the increase in hospital admittance in countries like Portugal and Singapore.
Khairy said Malaysia currently had 13 cases of the Omicron sub-lineages and were monitoring these closely.
He then urged all Malaysians, in particular senior citizens and those with co-morbidities, to get their vaccine booster doses if they have yet to do so.
“Nevertheless, data from Israel and the United States show that individuals who have completed a primary dose vaccination and received two booster doses, especially in the age group of 60 and older, have lower mortality rates than those who have only one booster dose.
“In the meantime, those who have a single booster dose have lower the risk of death from Covid-19 than those who did not receive a booster dose or did not get vaccinated at all.
“Based on the latest developments of Covid-19 infections, I would like to call individuals who have not yet received a booster dose as well as a second booster dose to immediately get it especially the high-risk individuals,” he said.
He added that while the current vaccines were less able to prevent infection, they were proven to be effective in reducing severity of Covid-19 symptoms.
“It is not compulsory, but recommended when we are facing a new wave.
“We anticipate more movement during the Aidiladha festivity, so for senior citizens and those with co-morbidities, who have yet to get to get their booster, please get your booster jabs.
“This is very important. Although we are transitioning to endemic, we will still face new waves and cases will come,” he said.
Malaysia saw 4,020 Covid-19 cases reported yesterday, and on July 6 the number of new cases exceeded the 3,000 cap, Khairy said.
He pointed out that the last time the country had recorded more than 3,000 cases in a day was on May 13 with 3,029 cases.