PETALING JAYA,Mar 5: The health ministry has detected the first two cases of Covid-19 patients infected with a virulent Nigerian variant, known as B1.525, in Malaysia.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said those infected were foreign nationals who arrived from Dubai and tested positive after being administered RT-PCR tests.
The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) carried out full genome sequencing due to their travel history, he said in a Facebook post.
Noor Hisham said the variant shares similarities with the UK variant B.1.1.7, including the E484K spike mutation, which has been reported to evade the immune system.
“The Nigerian variant may cause increase in transmissibility as well as possible reductions in immune response,” he said.
He said the ministry, through IMR and the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre, will continue to monitor the development of the Nigerian variant and keep the public informed.
“Even with the Covid-19 vaccination programme under way, public health measures must continue to be practised as we have yet to achieve herd immunity,” he said.
“The public is advised to always practise personal hygiene by washing their hands regularly, wearing their face mask in public places and maintaining physical distancing at all times.”