Covid-19: Small number of XBB variant cases detected, no cause for alarm yet, says Khairy

Covid-19: Small number of XBB variant cases detected, no cause for alarm yet, says Khairy

SEREMBAN: A small number of cases probably caused by a new Covid-19 sub variant have been reported in Malaysia, but there is no cause for alarm yet, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said there has been no increase in the number of deaths or infected individuals being hospitalised despite the emergence of the XBB Covid-19 strain, also known as BA.2.10.

“We have started detecting a small wave which is probably from the XBB subvariant.

“We also expect the number of cases to go up a little in the coming weeks but there is nothing to be worried about for now,” he told reporters after handing over Malaysian Family tablets to UiTM students here.

The XBB Covid-19 strain is an Omicron subvariant that was first detected on Aug 13, and has been found in several Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Japan, Singapore), Australia, Denmark and the United States.

Khairy said he would be making a statement next week as ministry experts were still studying the new subvariant.

“We need a little more time to see the full effects of the new subvariant based on the model that we have.

“We should get a clearer picture by next week,” he said.

Khairy said the ministry had no plans for now to reintroduce measures such as the compulsory wearing of face masks.

He said even Singapore, where the number of cases had surged in recent weeks, had no plans to reintroduce any measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“However, my Singapore counterpart has told me they are not completely ruling out the return of face masks,” he said.

Khairy said if findings showed that new subvariant caused a higher transmissibility rate, then he too would not rule out reintroducing face masks.

“But for now, it is a no,” he said.

He advised the people to be extra careful when they go to crowded places, were planning to meet older folk or had Covid-19 symptoms to don the mask as a precaution.

“You assess the situation and make your own decision for now,” he said, adding that there was always a possibility of new sub variants emerging when the country was in transition to the endemic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Asked if the health authorities would be introducing additional measures at the Causeway to check the spread of the new subvariant here, Khairy said there were no such plans for now.

“For now, we will be monitoring the situation in Singapore.

“Once they decide to reintroduce the mask mandate, we will talk to them,” he said, adding that he too would not rule out the return of the mask mandate in malaysia.

Separately, Khairy said the ministry has also given the proposed Covid-19 prevention standard operating procedures to the Election Commission to be used during the coming polls.

The EC, he said, would be announcing these in due course.

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