Malaysia detects first case of Omicron coronavirus variant

Malaysia has detected its first case of the Omicron variant. It was found in a foreign student who was quarantined after arrival from South Africa two weeks ago, its health minister confirmed on Friday.

Authorities had re-tested earlier positive samples after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Omicron as a variant of concern on Nov 24, minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

The 19-year-old woman, who was asymptomatic and had been vaccinated, had tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Malaysia, via Singapore, and was quarantined for 10 days before being released on Nov 29, Mr Khairy said.

Five other people who shared a vehicle with her prior to her quarantine all tested negative. Authorities have asked the student along with eight close contacts to undergo further testing after her earlier test samples were confirmed to be the new variant, Mr Khairy added.

This week, Malaysia temporarily banned the entry of travellers from eight southern African countries that have reported the presence of the variant or are considered high-risk.

On Friday, Mr. Khairy said Malaysia would immediately impose further restrictions, including additional tests for vaccinated travelers from Singapore, who are allowed to enter Malaysia without quarantine.

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