PUTRAJAYA, April 24 — Twelve cases of COVID-19 XBB.1.16 subvariant, better known as the Arcturus variant, have been reported in Malaysia, with all patients suffering mild symptoms and in stable condition.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said of the total, six cases were detected in Sarawak, four in Selangor, and two in Kuala Lumpur.

 According to her, the strain, which is a subvariant of Omicron, was formed as a result of the combination or recombinant variant BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 and as of April 2 last, it has been detected in at least 31 countries around the world, including Malaysia.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified it as a Variant of Interest (VOI), and the Technical Advisory Group on the SARS-CoV Virus Evaluation has assessed it as a subvariant requiring attention but not in the Variant Under Monitoring class.

“Even though Malaysia has detected XBB.1.16 since March this year, COVID-19 infections are still under control and do not burden the health services capacity at hospitals and clinics,” she said in a statement today.

She said the global risk assessment reported the infection risk and case severity caused by XBB1.16 to be lower than subvariant XBB.1.5 or any other subvariants as previously reported.

Dr Zaliha said there was a 6.4 per cent drop in COVID-19 cases reported in Epidemiology Week (EW) 16/23 from 5,149 to 4,817 cases.

She added to date, 70.97 per cent or 8,319 of the cumulative COVID-19 cases were categorised as Variants of Concern (VOC) and Variants of Interest (VOI), namely, Omicron and its subvariants.

 Hence, Dr Zaliha said the Ministry of Health (MOH) reminded the public to continue practising TRIIS (Test, Report, Isolate, Inform and Seek) if they experience any symptoms.

She urged those who tested positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate immediately for the stipulated period.

Dr Zaliha said her ministry will continue to monitor the situation and COVID-19 variants or sub-variants in the country and abroad, in addition to ensuring that health services are in optimal condition to ensure the well-being of Malaysians.


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