India’s ‘double mutant’ Covid-19 strain detected in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has recorded its first case of the “double mutant” Covid-19 strain originating from India, says the Health Ministry.

In a tweet on Sunday (May 2), it said the B.1.617 strain was detected in the country.

“The mutation has been detected from an analysis through whole genome sequencing (WGS) after screening was conducted at the main international entry point of the country, ” it said.

The tweet was accompanied by a link to a Berita Harian news article, which reported that the matter was confirmed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

“We have detected the first case of the Indian variant, the double mutant strain, through the entry of an Indian national when we were carrying out tests at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, ” he said.

He added that to date, there have also been 48 cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa, eight cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom, and two cases of the B.1.525 variant from Nigeria.

“A case involving the B.1.1.7 variant from the UK was linked to a foreigner residing in Sandakan, Sabah, and this was the first case where it was detected in an individual without an overseas travel history. It is likely a local transmission, ” he added.

Last Tuesday (April 27), Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysia will temporarily suspend all flights to and from India to stop the “double mutant” variant from entering the country.

Ships and Indian citizens with Malaysian work permits were also not allowed to enter the country.

The B.1.617 variant was first detected in India last December, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) describing it as a “variant of interest” which suggests that it potentially has increased transmissibility.

It has not yet been categorised as a “variant of concern”, which describes strains of a higher threat level, like the B.1.1.7 UK variant and the B.1.351 South African variant.

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