KUCHING (June 23): Several cases of the highly infectious Omicron Covid-19 variants namely the BA.2.12.1 and BA.5 sub-lineages have been detected in Sarawak recently, alerted Prof Dr David Pereira.
The director of the Institute of Health and Community Medicine of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) in a report to the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas today said in the last week of May, the institute detected the first incidences of 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 week of June,” he said in the report over a period of from March 1 this year to June 16.
Over the period, a total of 1,229 samples of positive cases obtained statewide were successfully sequenced, where all were detected as the B.1.1.529 Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC).
From these, he said the BA.2 variant continued to be the dominant circulating sub variant and with its multiple minor sub-lineages detected.
Dr David said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had previously flagged the BA.2.12.1 and the BA.5 sub-lineages as highly infectious with faster transmission rates over the parent Omicron VOC.
“The BA 2.12.1, first detected in the United States of America (USA), continues to be the dominant driver of infections in that country.
“The BA.5, first detected in South Africa, meanwhile, has caused a recent uptick in cases of Covid-19 in multiple countries worldwide,” he said.
In the light of this development, Dr David advised the public to be aware of the heightened risk of an increase in infection rates in Sarawak.
“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 stressed.