KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 3): Malaysia on Thursday (Dec 2) detected its first case involving the Omicron variant of Covid-19 after a South African national tested positive for it, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Friday.
"We have done comprehensive contact tracing,” Khairy added at a press conference.
According to him, the comprehensive contact tracing involved passengers on the aeroplane which the South African national boarded to come to Malaysia recently as well as those within the Kuala Lumpur International Airport's (KLIA) check-in area.
The health minister said the South African national is a 19-year-old student studying at a private university in Ipoh, Perak.
"The case (patient) travelled from KLIA to Ipoh using a bus specially provided by the university.
"The student has undergone compulsory quarantine at an accommodation provided by the university.
"The student is fully vaccinated [against Covid-19] and not asymptomatic,” Khairy added.
After the press conference, the minister wrote on Twitter that the South African national is a legitimate student who returned to Malaysia after visiting family members in South Africa.
He said the student complied with pre-departure Covid-19 testing and on-arrival testing, and had been staying at home during quarantine.
"Let’s be measured in our comments and reactions. New Covid-19 variants are inevitable.
"What is important is we have robust measures and systems in place to detect, trace and contain [Covid-19].
"On top of that, we must continue to follow the SOPs (standard operating procedures), get vaccinated and get the booster [dose],” Khairy added.
Student already in Malaysia before South Africa reported first detected Omicron case to WHO
Looking back, the health minister said the student arrived in Malaysia on Nov 19 — before South Africa reported its first detected Omicron case to the World Heath Organization (WHO).
The WHO on its website on Nov 26 designated Omicron as a Covid-19 variant of concern on the advice of its Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).
"This decision was based on the evidence presented to the TAG-VE that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes,” the WHO added.
According to the WHO, researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand the many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.
On Friday, Khairy also wrote on Twitter that after Malaysia found out about Omicron, experts had conducted genomic tests on all positive cases from KLIA between Nov 11 and 28 to see if Omicron is already in the country.
"That’s how we detected the [first Omicron] case [in Malaysia]. We have done both automated and manual contact tracing, and so far, this case is contained," he said.