Dr Zaliha: No Covid-19 variant BA.2.86 detected in Malaysia so far

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has not detected the new Covid-19 variant called BA.2.86, the sub-variant of Omicron, in the country.

However, minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa advised those eligible to get the Covid-19 shots to do so immediately to protect themselves from the variant which is said to be highly mutated.

"Getting vaccinated against the virus will also cut the risk of hospital admissions and worsening signs of symptoms.

"The ministry advices people to wear face masks if they have symptoms or when they are in a confined or crowded space to safeguard their families, neighbours and friends from the Covid-19 infection," Dr Zaliha told Berita Harian today.

Dr Zaliha's advice came after the British Health Security Agency detected the BA.2.86 variant with a high number of mutations.

The mutation was identified last Friday in someone with no recent travel history and the agency said it could mean that it could already be significant community transmission among Britons.

The strain was first found in Denmark on July 24 and July 31, the same day it was discovered in Israel.

Dr Zaliha said although there were no records of the infections yet, the ministry would continue its surveillance to prevent any possible spread of the new variant.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed the BA.2.86 variant as "Variant Under Monitoring" which has as many as 36 mutations as compared to Omicron subvariant XBB.1.15.

It is nicknamed Pirola and was also detected in the United Kingdom and United States.

WHO said it required more information on the variant, including the infection rate and the level of immunity resistance.

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