Malaysia has detected its first case of the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 in an Indian national screened at KLIA in Sepang.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said the variant, B.1.617.1, was found through an additional 59 whole genome sequencing conducted by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) from April 24 to May 1.
“These include 30 more variants of concern (VOC) – 27 South African (B.1.351) and three UK (B.117), and one variant of interest, the Indian variant or B.1.617,” he said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, this is also the first report of the South African VOC (B.1.351) in Perak and Kelantan, involving some significant clusters with 10 cases in each state,” he said, adding that the variant was also still detected in seven cases in Selangor.
Adham said the UK variant was also reported in two cases in Selangor and another in Sandakan, Sabah.
“This is also the first report of the UK B.117 among persons without a history of overseas travel, hence suggsting local transmission,” he said.
There are now 48 cases of the South African strain, eight cases of the UK strain, one of the Indian strain and two of the Nigerian variant, B.1.525.
Adham said the IMR report also found a gradual increase in the number of VOCs, especially the South African variant, among the samples on which it is performing full genome sequencing.
He said this suggested the potential replacement of this variant with one of local lineage, B.1.524.
India’s SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics announced on March 24 that it had found a new double mutant variant of the virus in the country.
The variant carried features from two lineages: the variants first identified in California (B.1.427 and B.1.429), and those discovered in South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P.1).