KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is on high alert following its first case of Omicron, the heavily-mutated Covid-19 variant that was first detected in South Africa.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today, the case was detected from a sample of a non-Malaysian student from South Africa who arrived in the country via Singapore on Nov 19.

Speaking to reporters, he said the private university student from Ipoh, Perak, was fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, and had fully complied with the home quarantine order.

To date, the Omicron variant has spread to at least 26 nations including Singapore.

Singapore's health ministry said, preliminary tests detected the new Omicron variant in two passengers who arrived in the city state on a plane from Johannesburg, South Africa on Dec 1.

Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday, it has imposed temporary travel restrictions on travellers from eight countries in a bid to stop the new Omicron variant from spreading to the country.

The countries affected are South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

According to MOH, the list of nations on the temporary travel restrictions will be updated from time to time and risk assessments are conducted based on local infections, number of cases and the immunisation coverage in those countries.

Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has recently warned, the heavily mutated Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) is likely to spread further and poses a “very high” risk of infection surges that could have “severe consequences” in some places.

Among the nations struck by the new variant are Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, Norway, the United States, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, Beligium, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

For the record, Covid-19 was detected in Malaysia on Jan 25, 2020, when three Chinese citizens, who had entered Malaysia through Johore from Singapore on Jan 23, were tested positive for the disease.

As of yesterday, daily new cases of Covid-19 in the country surged to 5,806, bringing the cumulative figure to 2,644,027.

Selangor, which is ahead of other states with four-digit numbers, reported 1,724 new daily cases yesterday, with 18,291 active Covid-19 cases.

With the cumulative figure of 2,644,027, Malaysia now ranked 21st in the list of 222 nations nations/territories struck by the Covid-19 pandemic. Just ahead of Malaysia is Netherlands (2,684,734) and the Philippines (2,833,473).

Active COVID-19 cases with probable infections as of yesterday stood at 62,253.

During the week from Nov 27 to Dec 2, daily new cases are as below: Nov 27 (5,097), Nov 28 (4,239), Nov 29 (4,087), Nov 30 (4,879), Dec 1 (5,439) and Dec 2 (5,806). Of 5,806 new cases reported yesterday, Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 103 (1.8 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; while 5,703 (98.2 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

According to MOH, category 5 is for critical cases requiring ventilators; category 4 is for patients needing oxygen assistance and category 3 is for patients with pneumonia. Category 1 is for patients who are asymptomatic and category 2 is for those with mild symptoms.

Total Covid-19 recoveries as of yesterday stood at 7,246 cases, bringing total recovered cases to 2,551,253 (96.5 per cent).

Of 368 Covid-19 patients warded at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) yesterday, 145 cases needed respiratory assistance.

Another 47 fatalities were registered yesterday, bringing the total cumulative figure to 30,521.

Dr Noor Hisham said, total cumulative cases infected by the SARS-CoV-2 categorised as Variant of Concern (VOC) and Variant of Interest (VOI) stood at 4,682 cases. Of the total cases detected, 4,672 were VOC and 20 were VOI.

Meanwhile, the Ro/rt value stays below 1.00. Below is the Ro/Rt during the week under review Nov 27 (0.96), Nov 28 (0.96), Nov 29 (0.95), Nov 30 (0.95), Dec 1 (0.95) and Dec 2 (0.96).

As of yesterday, Perlis recorded the highest Ro/Rt value at 1.12.

The R-Naught or R0/Rt value of a virus indicates the infectivity rate or the number of new infections generated by each case. An R0 value of 0.5 would be needed to flatten this deadly virus’ infection curve.

According to MOH's COVIDNOW data as of yesterday, total active Covid-19 cases with probable infection stood at 62,253, with the breakdown as below:

Home quarantine - 50,358 cases (80.9 per cent); Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) - 6,346 cases (10.2 per cent); Hospitals - 5,038 cases (8.1 per cent); ICU without respiratory assistance (ABP) - 245 cases (0.4 per cent); ICU and needed ABP - 266 cases (0.4 per cent).

Meanwhile, total active clusters in Malaysia as of yesterday stood at 227. Overall, 5,959 clusters were detected in the country with 5,732 of them having ended.

During the week, total new clusters stood at 39. Most of the new clusters were linked to the workplace (17 cases (43.6 per cent) and education 15 cases (38.5 per cent).

For the education cluster, 139 positive cases were detected from Sekolah Seri Puteri in Cyberjaya. According to Selangor state health director Datuk Dr Sha'ari Ngadiman, the positive cases were detected based on screenings conducted on 946 individuals in the school. Those infected comprised 114 students, 15 teachers and 10 staff.

Other education cluster cases were detected in Jalan Kuala Kangsar Gerik (Perak), involving six (6) Form Five students of Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM), Sultan Azlan Shah as of Nov 29 and Sungai Batang Cluster (Sandakan, Sabah) and as of Dec 1, 24 positive cases were detected. The cluster involved students from Politeknik Sandakan.

Of the total new daily cases of 5,806 reported yesterday, the state-by-state breakdown of new cases (+imported cases) is as follows:

Four-digits - Selangor 1,724 (+2);

Three-digits - Johor 633 (+1), Kedah 332, Kelantan 640, Melaka 249, Negeri Sembilan 181, Pahang 354, Perak 228, Penang 261 (+1), Sabah 426 (+1), Terengganu 191 and Kuala Lumpur 381 (+4);

Two-digits - Sarawak 90 (+1), Putrajaya 53 and Perlis 47.

One-digit - Labuan 5.

The breakdown of active Covid-19 cases is as below:

Nov 27 (67,252), Nov 28 (66,455), Nov 29 (65,497), Nov 30 (65,143), Dec 1 (63,740) and Dec 2 (62,253).

Following is the breakdown of Covid-19 patients based on their respective categories:

Of 5,097 daily cases reported on Nov 27; 84 (1.6 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 5,013 (98.4 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 4,239 daily cases reported on Nov 28; 73 (1.7 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 4,166 (98.3 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 4,087 daily cases reported on Nov 29; 72 (1.8 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 4,015 (98.2 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 4,879 daily cases reported on Nov 30; 79 (1.6 peratus) were categories 3, 4, and 5; and 4,800 (98.4 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 5,439 daily cases reported on Dec 1; 105 (1.9 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 5,334 (98.1 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 5,806 daily cases reported on Dec 2; 103 (1.8 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 5,703 (98.2 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Recovered cases for the week are as below:

Nov 27 (5,352), Nov 28 (5,007), Nov 29 (4,984), Nov 30 (5,168), Dec 1 (6,803) and Dec 2 (7,246). * cumulative recorded cases as of yesterday stood at 2,551,253 (96.5 per cent).

Following is the daily breakdown of new cases, local transmissions and other related matters:

Nov 27 - New cases : 5,097 (cumulative 2,619,577); Imported cases: 17 (14 citizens ; 3 non-citizens); Local transmission: 5,080 [4,876 citizens (96.0 per cent); 204 non-citizens (4.0 per cent)];

Nov 28 - New cases: 4,239 (cumulative 2,623,816); Imported cases: 12 (7 citizens; 5 non-citizens); Local transmission: 4,227 [4,065 citizens (96.2 per cent); 162 non-citizens (3.8 per cent)];

Nov 29 - New cases : 4,087 (cumulative 2,627,903); Imported cases: 21 (17 citizens; 4 non-citizens); Local transmission: 4,066 cases [3,846 citizens (94.6 per cent); 220 non-citizens (5.4 per cent)];

Nov 30 - New cases : 4,879 (cumulative 2,632,782); Imported cases : 24 (16 citizens; 8 non-citizens); Local transmission : 4,855 [4,678 citizens (96.4 per cent); 177 non-citizens (3.6 per ent)];

Dec 1 - New cases : 5,439 (cumulative 2,638,221); Imported cases: 21 (15 citizens; 6 non-citizens); Local transmission: 5,418 [5,229 citizens (96.5 per cent); 189 non-citizens (3.5 per cent)];

Dec 2 - New cases : 5,806 (cumulative 2,644,027); Imported cases: 11 (6 citizens; 5 non-citizens); Local transmission: 5,795 [5,542 citizens (95.6 per cent); 253 non-citizens (4.4 per cent)].

The daily breakdown in fatalities is as follows:

*BID = Brought-in-Dead are cases outside the hospital and those brought to the hospital's forensic department; positive COVID-19 cases after PT PCR tests conducted. Nov 27 - 40 (BID 8), Nov 28 - 29 (BID 6), Nov 29 - 61 (BID 15), Nov 30 - 55 (BID 8), Dec 1 - 49 (BID 12 ) and Dec 2 - 47 (BID 12).

*Total fatalities as of yesterday stood at 30,521.

New clusters reported are as below:

Nov 27 - 8 clusters (workplace 3, community 1, education 2, high-risk 1 and detention centre 1);

Nov 28 - 3 (workplace 2 and education 1);

Nov 29 - 7 (workplace 3, community 1 and education 3); Nov 30 - 9 (workplace 2, religion 2, education 4 and high-risk 1);

Dec 1 - 6 (workplace 4 and education 2);

Dec 2 - 6 (workplace 3 and education 3).

According to Worldometer, total Covid-19 cases worldwide stood at 264,472,909 from 260,570,046 previously with 5,250,046 fatalities as against 5,203,413 the previous week. Recovered cases stood at 238,490,436 from 235,481,473 previously.

Some 222 countries are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and those in the top 10 of the list are the United States (US), India, Brazil, United Kingdom (UK), Russia, Turkey, France, Iran, Argentina and Germany.

*Tonga 222nd nation (latest) in the list.

The breakdown is as follows:

US 49,716,825 (806,398 deaths);

India 34,615,757 (470,115 deaths);

Brazil 22,118,782 (615,225 deaths);

UK 10,329,074 (145,281 deaths);

Russia 9,703,107 (277,640 deaths);

Turkey 8,839,891 (77,230 deaths);

France 7,773,530 (119,330 deaths);

Iran 6,125,596 (129,988 deaths);

Germany 6,026,796 (102,909 deaths); and Argentina 5,335,310 (116,617 deaths);

China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, remained at the 113th spot with 98,993 cases and 4,636 deaths.

Besides Malaysia, the five other Southeast Asian nations that have joined the list of 112 countries with more than 100,000 Covid-19 cases (* latest in the list is Rwanda) are:

Indonesia in the 14th spot with 4,256,998 cases (143,850 deaths); the Philippines in the 19th spot with 2,833,473 cases (48,752 deaths); Thailand 24th with 2,130,641 cases (20,878 deaths); Vietnam 34th - 1,266,288 cases (25,658 deaths); Myanmar 63rd with 523,346 cases (19,120 deaths); Singapore 86th with 267,150 cases (735 deaths); Cambodia 109th with 120,183 cases (2,949 deaths); Laos 117th with 76,496 cases (186 deaths); and Brunei 167th 15,111 (97 deaths).

The World Health Organisation’s China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia that were detected in Wuhan on Dec 31, 2019. On Jan 7, 2020 the Chinese authorities confirmed that the newly detected novel coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV).

A study of the virus’ genetic sequence suggested similarities to that seen in snakes and bats. China health officials identified the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan as the source of the transmission of the coronavirus.

On Feb 11, 2020, WHO announced the official name of the virus, Covid-19, which is an acronym for coronavirus 2019 – CO stands for corona, VI for virus and D for disease.

On Jan 30, 2020, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency and on March 11, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.

WHO has described the Covid-19 outbreak as much more dangerous than the A H1N1 Influenza, also known as Swine Flu.

Swine Flu, which occurred between January 2009 and August 2010, infected more than 1.6 million people and caused 18,449 fatalities. It was first detected in Mexico and later in the United States in March 2009.

Covid-19 was detected in Malaysia on Jan 25, 2020, when three Chinese citizens, who had entered Malaysia through Johore from Singapore on Jan 23, were tested positive for the disease.

New variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus have since emerged in the United Kingdom (identified as B117) in September 2020, South Africa (501Y.V2) in October 2020 and India (B.1.617), also in October 2020.

Cumulatively, Malaysia's Covid-19 cases have breached the one million mark as on July 25, with 1,013,438 cases. The first time daily cases reached the five-digit level was on July 13 with 11,079 cases.-Bernama