KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 – Sarawak’s health officials have detected an Omicron case in a woman from the state capital of Kuching without recent travel history, indicating potential local transmission.
According to a statement released by the Sarawak Public Communications Unit (UKAS) today, Sarawak Covid-19 Advisory Group (Scovag) member Prof Dr David Pereira said the woman identified was among two cases of the new Omicron variant detected in Kuching out of four reported by the state today.
The other Omicron case detected in Kuching involved a 25-year-old woman who had returned from the United Kingdom and was swabbed on Wednesday (December 22).
The other two cases reported by the state involved a 52-year-old man in Bintulu who had returned from Nigeria and was swabbed on December 19, and a 19-year-old male adolescent who had returned from the UK and was swabbed on December 14.
Dr Pereira, who is director of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM), advised the public to immediately get their booster shots, as studies have shown that it is necessary to boost waning neutralising antibody levels to protect against Omicron infections.
“In light of possible transmission of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in the community, the general public is urged to be extremely cautious in the festive period of Christmas, New Year, and year-end holidays,” he was quoted saying in the UKAS statement.
The discovery of an Omicron case in Sarawak without travel history came after Indonesia’s Ministry of Health reported yesterday three imported Omicron infections in Indonesian migrant workers returning from Congo and Malaysia. The cases were confirmed from whole genome sequencing test results on December 21.
Indonesian authorities did not state how many of the three came from Malaysia, and where the case(s) were living in Malaysia. CodeBlue has contacted Indonesia’s Health Ministry for further details.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has so far confirmed 13 Omicron cases, all imported infections. However, the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected that the new Omicron variant is already dominant in Malaysia, and will be the main Covid-19 strain globally by next month.
IHME also projected the extremely contagious Omicron variant — with a reported doubling time of 1.5 to 2.5 days — to lead to up to nearly 300,000 daily Covid-19 infections in Malaysia by the end of next month.