Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali Omicron Covid-19 variant VOC
Dr. Noor Azmi Ghazali

By Muhammad Azizul Osman

KUALA LUMPUR – The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the Omicron Covid-19 variant that was found in the South Africa is getting nearer to Malaysia now.

According to the Deputy Minister of Health I, Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, the variant has been detected in Hong Kong and the people need to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) so that the variant does not penetrate Malaysia.

“Although we are now free, the people must be aware of this so that we can avoid from being infected by Covid-19 once again and this time, it could be worse.

“With the existence of new variant, Omicron that was first detected in South Africa and the latest in Hong Kong, it is approaching our area,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.

Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the new Covid-19 B.1.1.529 variant as a Variant of Concern (VOC) and named it Omicron.

The Omicron was first detected in South Africa, and now it is listed as one of the most concerning Covid-19 variants along with Delta, Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

Therefore, the government would take drastic actions by tightening control by not allowing the people from those countries to enter Malaysia.

Therefore, Noor Azmi said that the people in this country are recommended to take Covid-19 booster dose to fully protect themselves from the dangerous variant.

“Omicron is said to be more dangerous than Delta and it has 32 protein mutations compared to Delta, which only has 9.

“WHO has listed Omicron as one of the VOC. We do not know how bad this variant can go. We don’t know how far vaccines can work in defending us from this variant and we do not know if the current medicines can treat this disease.

“Although we are at the Phase 4 of PPN and we are free to move, have social and economic activities, the people must also be aware of this so that we can avoid from getting Covid-19 again, and this time, it could be worse,” he added.

The variant was reported for the first time last by to the WHO from South Africa. The first Omicron variant infection was tested from one of the specimens collected on 9 November.

Within several weeks, the infection in South Africa has risen rapidly, along with the detection.

On a relevant development, the MOH will begin to vaccinate children aged five until 11 years-old.

“We want to protect the children aged five to 11 years old just like the way we protect our older children from 12 until 17 years-old, who have reached 85.9 percent of vaccination rate.

“We are confident that this effort would make it safer for them to return to school,” he added.

Last month, the Minister of Health, Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said that Malaysia will procure the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 years-old.

Sinovac will also be considered for the group. -MalaysiaGazette

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B.1.1.529 variant detected, Malaysians forbidden from travelling to Africa

B.1.1.529 variant detected, Malaysians forbidden from travelling to Africa