Covid-19: Nine cases of South African variant detected

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By John Isaac

MALAYSIA has detected nine Covid-19 cases of the South African B.1.351 variant, which was first identified among four local cases in March, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said initial investigations found that the four cases have geo-graphical and close relations with the Jalan Lima Cluster as shown in the phylogenetic analysis.

“Two cases were believed to have originated from the Jalan Lima Cluster involving workers of a company which is based at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. However, it was difficult to identify and verify the B.1.351 variant’s mode of transmission to these workers.

“One case was from the Kebun Baru Cluster and another case was a family member to a Covid-19 patient who is living in the same house,” he said in a statement reported by Borneo Post.

Following the first discovery of the variant, Dr Noor Hisham said more genome sequencing was carried out using the Covid-19 positive samples from geographical locations including the Kuala Langat and Sepang districts.

He said the findings of the tests revealed that five more cases from the localities have been infected with the variant, of which four cases were from the Kebun Baru Cluster and another case from the Jalan Lima Cluster.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) has identified and verified the presence of the South African B.1.351 variant among the local Covid-19 cases through genomic surveillance.

He said the genomic surveillance strategy involved samples that were confirmed positive with the coronavirus from January this year until March 31.

“It involves positive cases from local clusters in Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan; positive cases with history of travelling abroad; and death cases due to Covid-19,” he explained.

He said the South African B.1.351 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa in December 2020.