On Dec 2, Malaysia reported its first case of omicron variant infection as the new coronavirus strain spreads across the world.
The variant was first identified in a 19-year-old woman who had arrived from South Africa via Singapore on Nov. 19, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a briefing on Friday. She is a student at a private university in Ipoh, Perak, and has completed her Covid vaccination, he said.
“It’s important to note that this case came in to Malaysia on Nov. 19 before South Africa reported the first case to the World Health Organization,” he said. “After we found out about omicron we went back to do genomic tests on all positive cases from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport between Nov. 11 and 28. That’s how we detected the case.”
The student, who was asymptomatic, completed her quarantine on Nov. 29, and all her close contacts have been tested and found negative, Khairy said. “So far, this case is contained.”
Meanwhile, the announcement comes days after the new variant prompted Malaysia to pause the transition to the endemic phase of the outbreak until it obtains more data. Malaysia and Singapore on Monday opened land and air vaccinated travel lanes, and plan to further reopen their borders as daily infections decline.
Malaysia will maintain its travel lane with Singapore for now, Khairy said. Malaysia on Wednesday added Malawi to its temporary travel ban on African countries and mandated additional Covid testing for those participating in its travel lane with Singapore.