‘Omicron’, the new highly contagious variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus, is likely to be already in Malaysia, or is very close.
This is according to Monash University Malaysia virologist Dr Vinod Balasubramaniam, as reported by New Straits Times.
“Chances are it (Omicron) is already here or near us,” he was quoted as saying.
The Omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa on 24 November this year, has already seen many countries – Malaysia included – ban flights and travellers from the affected region.
However, Dr Vinod says that such measures actually lead to more harm than good in the long run, as the virus can enter through other means, such as the supply chain of goods.
“When the Delta strain was initially discovered, it was found in 53 countries within three weeks, clearly indicating that blanket closure of borders is not the most sustainable way to counter this.”
“In a recent case in Belgium, for example, the infected patient didn’t have any travel history to Africa.”
Instead, he says that other countries ought to assist the nations facing the outbreak, particularly by extending vaccine supply and medical equipment.
Meanwhile, the Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has today refuted claims that Omicron has reached Malaysia.
“Not true. No cases been detected yet in Malaysia,” he said briefly when contacted by the media.
This was after allegations were made on social media that the new variant has been detected in Perak.