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Malaysia facing small Covid-19 wave due to XBB variant, says Khairy

The health minister says there has been a 16.5% increase in number of new cases from the week before.

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Commuters take the escalator down to the KLCC LRT station in Kuala Lumpur.
Commuters take the escalator down to the KLCC LRT station in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is currently experiencing a small wave of Covid-19 cases following the discovery of the Omicron XBB sub-variant in the country, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said based on daily data, the number of new Covid-19 cases had increased by 16.5%, from 14,525 in epidemiological week 42 (ME 42) to 16,917 in ME 43 (Oct 23 to 29).

Khairy said the number of Covid-19 admissions to health facilities at public hospitals per 100,00 population also showed an increase of 14.3% in ME 43 compared to ME 42.

"We suspect that the XBB sub-variant is behind this upward trend which is also the cause of the wave in Singapore, which has taken three to four weeks to decrease.

"Perhaps we are also facing an XBB variant infection with four cases detected as of Oct 27," he said at a press conference in Putrajaya today.

Khairy said these four cases involved three men and one woman, aged 25 to 51, from Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.

He said all four cases were found to be positive for Covid-19 through genome sequencing surveillance, with all four in Category Two, experiencing mild symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat and flu.

Of the four cases, only one was reinfection. Khairy said all four had been isolated for seven days, while their close contacts had also been identified.

Khairy urged the public to remain vigilant and careful, especially as the country heads towards the 15th general election (GE15). 

"Given the increase in Covid-19 cases, the health ministry has decided to remind the public that we are still in the transition phase to endemic, and that waves of infection will come and go.

"Unfortunately, the timing of the current increase in cases coincides with GE15, which is why the ministry is advising the public, especially on the use of face masks. 

"It is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended, especially in crowded and closed areas and for high-risk individuals," he said.

Khairy also encouraged frontline staff, including Election Commission employees who will be on duty during GE15, to take a second booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In the meantime, Khairy said that Malaysia had ordered a new type of vaccine, Bivalent from Pfizer, which will arrive in November.

"There is no additional procurement, this is existing procurement. We have changed our order from the old vaccine to the new vaccine, which will arrive in November," he said.