KUCHING, June 23 — Cases of the highly infectious COVID-19 Omicron variants, namely the BA.2.12.1 and BA.5, have been detected in Sarawak recently, according to the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM).
UNIMAS IHCM director Prof Dr David Perera disclosed this in his report to State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas here today.
Dr Perera said 1,229 samples of positive cases were successfully sequenced from March 1 to June 16 this year.
“All were detected as the Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC). These samples represented positive cases obtained state-wide,” he said in a statement here today.
Perera said from these samples, the BA.2 continued to be the dominant circulating subvariant, with its multiple minor sub-lineages detected.
“However, in the last week of May, we detected the first incidences of the highly infectious BA.2.12.1 from a case in Kuching and a BA.5 from a case in Sibu.
“Subsequently, an additional case of BA.2.12.1 and three cases of BA.5 were detected in Kuching through the second and third weeks of June.The World Health Organisation (WHO) had previously flagged both these sub-lineages as highly infectious with faster transmission rates over the parent Omicron VOC,” he said.
Dr Perera said in light of this development, the general public are strongly advised to be aware of the heightened risk of an increase in infection rates in the state.
“They are strongly advised, as well, to get their booster shot if they have not done so, particularly for individuals with comorbidities and those above 60 years old.” he said.