PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has identified a new Covid-19 strain in the country from samples taken in Sabah.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, however, said it was still unknown whether the strain – dubbed the “A701B” mutation – was more infectious than usual.
“We detected this mutation in 60 samples taken from Covid-19 patients under the Benteng Lahad Datu cluster in Sabah.
“We still have not ascertained whether this strain has a high infectivity level and whether it is more aggressive than usual.
“It is similar to a strain found in South Africa, Australia and the Netherlands.
“The Covid-19 virus always mutates, and we are always monitoring and researching the implication of the different strains towards the population, ” said Dr Noor Hisham at a press conference here on Wednesday (Dec 23).
He added that Malaysia had previously discovered a mutation said to have 10 times more infectivity than normal strains.
The D614G mutation of Covid-19 hit Kedah around August, and the state soon saw a rapid rise in infections.
On the Covid-19 mutation found in the United Kingdom which is also said to be highly infectious, he said the ministry was still monitoring the situation.
The government, however, does not intend to revert the mandatory quarantine ruling from 10 days back to 14 days due to the UK mutation discovery.
“If we look at the data of our quarantine ruling, there is not much difference if a person is isolated between 10 or 14 days.
“Most of the time, an individual will develop symptoms within the first week.
“If the quarantine period is only seven days, then maybe there is high risk, but 10 days or 14 days is not much difference based on our experience, ” said Dr Noor Hisham.
Travellers arriving in the country from abroad continue to be subjected to Covid-19 tests, and a quarantine order if they test negative.
Those who test positive will be sent to hospital for isolation and treatment.