Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed that the highly infectious UK-variant of COVID-19 has been detected here.
The variant, dubbed “UK B.1.1.7.” was identified from a sample taken from a traveller who visited the UK last year in December. “The traveller was found positive on December 28, 2020 and was isolated for further treatment,” Dr Hisham said in a statement.
He also said that the Ministry of Health has been monitoring travellers from countries who have reported the UK-variant such as the Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey, Philippines, India and the UK itself.
A total of 968 samples have been taken since October 2020 for genome sequencing that has been conducted on the 24 samples, he said. However, Dr Hisham said there has been no local transmission detected in the country.
While this UK-variant does not cause severe symptoms, it is said to be as much as 70 per cent more infectious compared to other previous strains discovered.
The UK-variant which was first discovered in the UK last December is believed to be responsible for the faster spread of COVID-19 in London and Southeast of the UK.