The Director-General of Health Malaysia, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has announced that the Ministry of Health (MoH) has detected a positive COVID-19 case in Malaysia that involved a variant of coronavirus called B117. First detected in the United Kingdom last year, the mutated coronavirus is said to be more contagious than the previous variant.
According to the statement released by Dr Noor Hisham, the case involved a traveller that had visited the UK in December 2020. The individual was then found positive within the same month on 28 December 2020 and has since been isolated.
While it is not exactly a piece of great news especially after the MCO 2.0 had just been announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin a few hours earlier, Dr Noor Hisham has also stated that no domestic transmission has been detected in Malaysia so far. The Director-General also pointed out that MoH had conducted tests on all travellers from countries that have reported B117 cases including the UK, Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey, the Philippines, and India.
Meanwhile, a preliminary study by Pfizer and BioNTech showed that their co-developed vaccine (which the Malaysian government has agreed to purchase) is apparently able to neutralise a key mutation inside the B117 strain. Despite the positive sign, more data are still needed to know whether the vaccine can truly work on the highly infectious coronavirus variant.