Health Ministry: India’s double mutant strain is here

PETALING JAYA: The double mutant Covid-19 strain from India has been detected in the country, says the Health Ministry.

It said it has identified the first case involving the B.1.617 strain.

“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 yesterday.

The tweet was accompanied by a link to a 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.

Dr Adham added that to date, Malaysia has seen 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 United Kingdom 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 stressed.

Last Tuesday, 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 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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