Covid-19 virus found in 96.5% of sewage water samples at Malaysia’s entry points, official says

Malaysia had said last week that it will be testing wastewater samples from aircraft coming from China. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has found that 96.5 per cent, or 28 out of 29 samples taken from international entry points contained the Omicron variant of Covid-19, said Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said Monday in a statement that the results came from testing at the National Public Health Laboratory while one more sample was still being tested, Bernama news agency reported.

Meanwhile, the lab also received 301 samples from 15 locations representing each state in the country.

“(Of these) 288 samples (95.7 per cent) had the presence of SARS-CoV-2, and positive for Omicron. Three had no presence, while 10 are still being tested,” he said in the statement.

He said Malaysia’s Covid-19 environmental surveillance was done as additional monitoring of Covid-19 in the country, Bernama reported.

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham said detecting the presence of Covid-19, or its official name SARS-CoV-2, in sewage water samples provided early warning by allowing health authorities to know about virus density trend, identify the variants in the community and monitor the intervention controls’ effectiveness in general.

Malaysia last week said that it will be testing wastewater samples from aircraft coming from China amid the soaring number of Covid-19 cases there, as inbound tourists are expected from the Asian giant. There have been calls in Malaysia to either ban all China travellers from coming in, or make them undergo tests before allowing them in.

Malaysia’s Health Ministry said the wastewater samples from these aircraft will be sent to the National Public Health Laboratory for polymerase chain reaction testing, before being dispatched for genome sequencing if the results are positive for Covid-19.

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