New Covid-19 infection wave may emerge in Malaysia sooner than expected: Minister

Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the majority of states had reported an increase in the number of cases. PHOTO: THE MALAY MAIL

REMBAU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A potential new wave of Covid-19 infection may emerge sooner than earlier forecast in Malaysia, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Thursday (June 23).

He said this was based on the number of cases reported in recent days both here and in Singapore.

"Over the past two to three days, we have been reporting more than 2,000 cases a day against 1,000 to 2,000 previously.

"Today (Thursday, June 23) alone, we have 2,796 cases with two new clusters reported at institutions of higher learning. So, if we are not cautious, the cases will keep on increasing in the coming weeks," he told reporters after attending an event in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan state.

Mr Khairy on Tuesday said Covid-19 cases would fluctuate and a potential new infection wave might emerge in the next few months, despite the current situation being under control.

He said Malaysians ought to know the latest developments so that they can take preventive measures against contracting the virus.

"This is more of a preventive measure so that we are ready, and not to scare anyone.

"In fact, other nations also face a similar situation from time to time," he said.

The minister said what was important was that the new wave was not severe and that the number of deaths and admissions into intensive care units remained low or under control.

He said all states except Selangor, Johor, Kedah, Terengganu and the Federal Territories have reported an increase in the number of cases compared with the previous day with two new higher education clusters also being reported.

"It is also my hope that those above 60 and those with chronic illnesses will take the second booster shot as this is the best way to keep safe," he said.

As at June 20, almost 108,000 individuals aged 12 years and above had received their second Covid-19 booster jabs. Almost 58,000 are above 60.

Mr Khairy said he was also closely following the Covid-19 situation in Singapore.

"I have to do so because Malaysia and Singapore are in the same epidemiological area with no travel restrictions and hundreds of thousands crossing the Causeway daily.

"My Singapore counterpart has also told me that the republic has been seeing more BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants which were more transmissible than earlier variants," he said, adding that these variants had the same effect as other Omicron variants.

Mr Khairy said it was because of this that the government had decided not to remove all Covid-19 preventive measures such as the wearing of face masks in closed areas.

Meanwhile, in eastern Sabah state, Covid-19 cases have continued to rise after breaching the 100 mark, with 137 new infections recorded on Thursday.

State Covid-19 spokesman Masidi Manjun said this was 12 more cases compared with the 125 infections on Wednesday.

"The caseload shot up to 137 today due to the huge increase in new cases in Kota Kinabalu and Penampang, which detected 17 and 18 infections respectively," he said.

He said Sabah registered a high number of cases despite 13 out of the 27 districts recording a lower number of cases, adding that only five districts recorded an increase in infections.

At the same time, he said, 16 districts did not record any new cases.

In Malaysia's other Borneo state of Sarawak, cases of the highly infectious Omicron sub-variants have been detected, with the public urged to remain alert and get their booster shots.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak's Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) director David Perera said the first incidences of the BA.2.12.1 and BA.5 sub-variants were detected from a case in Kuching and Sibu, respectively, in the last week of May.

Cases of Omicron subvariants BA 2.12.1 and BA.5 were detected in Kuching, Sarawak. ST PHOTO: RAM ANAND

"Subsequently, an additional case of BA 2.12.1 and three cases of BA.5 were detected in Kuching in the second and third weeks of June," he said in a statement on Thursday.

Dr Perera said the sub-variants were detected from the sequencing of 1,229 samples from positive cases statewide from March 1 to June 16.

He said all the sequenced samples were detected to be of the Omicron variant and sub-variants.

The World Health Organisation has flagged BA.2.12.1 and BA.5 as highly infectious with faster transmission rates than the parent Omicron variant.

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