Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has revealed that Malaysia has detected its first Omicron COVID-19 case within its borders. The infection involves a 19-year-old foreign student at a private university in Ipoh who came from South Africa through Singapore on 19 November.
The fully vaccinated student was tested positive after performing the on-arrival RT-PCR test at KLIA, although the student is said to be asymptomatic. The student was then made to go through mandatory solitary quarantine at an accommodation provided by the university until 29 November, while the journey from KLIA to Ipoh was done through a bus provided by the university as well.
Khairy noted that the student has been following the quarantine policy vigilantly and has not left the accommodation during the quarantine period. Following the confirmation of the Omicron variant on the sample, the student and eight other individuals that have been deemed as close contacts are being made to undergo RT-PCR testing today.
Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) designated Omicron as a Variant of Concern on 24 November, the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) has been doing genomic sequencing on all positive samples taken at the international entry point. The student’s sample was one of 74 samples that were tested, which were taken within the period between 11 to 28 November.
The sample was found to be positive for the Omicron variant on 2 December. Because the case is from a much earlier date than from the announcement by WHO, Khairy said that there is a possibility that Omicron has already spread within the country.
The minister added that the Ministry of Health is now ramping up booster shots and next week, the ministry will announce that certain groups will require a booster to be considered fully vaccinated. For now, the ministry’s booster target is 75% of those who have been vaccinated.