First Positive Case of Omicron Variant Detected in Malaysia Involving a Non-Malaysian Traveller

By Mei Kuan

The Ministry of Health via a media statement on its official Facebook page today announced the detection of the first positive case of the variant of concern (VOC), Omicron, in Malaysia.

“Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on the variant of concern, Omicron on November 24, the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) started conducting PCR Genotyping Assay on all positive samples screened at the international entry of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as an additional initiative to the continuous research of whole genome sequencing,” stated Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

According to him, the IMR had carried out PCR Genotyping Assay on 74 positive samples of COVID-19 detected at KLIA from November 11 till 28. The PCR Genotyping Assay is conducted to obtain preliminary results on the type of variant.

“From the PCR Genotyping Assay, one of the samples had been detected to have high probability to be the VOC Omicron. Genome sequencing was then conducted and found positive results for the Omicron variant on December 2,” he explained. 

The case involved a 19-year-old non-Malaysian traveller arriving from South Africa via Singapore on November 19 and had undergone the RT-PCR test upon arrival at the international entry of KLIA. The case is a student of a private university in Ipoh.

“The case had been issued with the Observation and Surveillance Order under Section 15 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Act 342) and underwent mandatory quarantine at the accommodation provided by the university in Ipoh. The journey of the case from KLIA to Ipoh was via a bus provided specially by the university,” Khairy highlighted.

“The case underwent quarantine alone at the accommodation and based on the investigation conducted, the case abided by the issued order. The case is also fully vaccinated and was asymptomatic,” he stated.

The IMR confirmed the screening test sample to be COVID-19 positive with a CT value of 26.68 on November 20. The case continued the isolation in the same house for 10 days and was released on November 29.

Close contact tracing was carried out on all bus passengers and the driver, totalling 5 people. All had undergone screening tests and mandatory quarantine. The first and second test samples of all close contacts were confirmed negative.

Meanwhile, on his official Twitter account, Khairy added: “As people catch up with the Omicron announcement, it’s important to note that this case came into Malaysia on 19 November before South Africa reported the first detected case to WHO.”

“We have done both automated and manual contact tracing. So far this case is contained,” he reassured.

He also urged all to be measured in comments and reactions: “The Omicron case is a student, legitimately studying in Malaysia, coming back after visiting family in South Africa. The individual complied with pre-departure testing, on-arrival testing, is fully vaccinated and stayed home during quarantine.”


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