Sampling sewage water for new variant Covid-19 effects

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 4,148 cases of Covid-19 infected with BA.5.2 and three cases infected with BF.7 correspond to approximately 80 percent of the variants that are currently contagious in China.

Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the number involved was recorded until December 31 last year, but there is no data that can link the increase in the number of cases of harm or death to the BA.5.2 and BF.1 variants.

He said, at the same time, Malaysia, which has started conducting environmental surveillance of Covid-19 using sewage since June 2022, received a total of 330 sewage samples with 29 samples (8.8 percent) from PMA and 301 (91.2 percent) samples from sentinel locations.

“Following that, the Ministry of Health (KKM) detected 29 samples from this PMA. The results of laboratory testing show that 28 samples (96.5 percent) have the presence of SARS-CoV-2 with the Omicron variant and one is still in the testing process.

“Of these 28 samples, 15 of them which is 53.6 percent have completed the WGS test and it was found that the dominant sublineages detected are BA.5, BA.2, BA.2.75 and BA.2.12,” he said in a statement today.


Noor Hisham said, of the 301 sentinel location samples, 288 (95.7 percent) were detected for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, three more were not detected while 10 were still in the testing process.

He said, of these 288 Omicron positive samples, 32 (11.1 percent) had completed the WGS test with sublineage the dominant ones detected are BA.5, BA.2, BA.2.75 and BA.2.12.

“Along with the current situation, this PMA sewage survey will also involve samples from China. This will allow the Ministry of Health to monitor the entry of SARS-CoV-2 variants from China as one of the control measures in facing the current situation,” he said.

Commenting on the variants that are contagious in China, he said, the BA.5.2 variant and the BF.7 variant comprise approximately 80 percent of the variants that are contagious in the country at the moment.

“Both of these variants belong to the Omicron BA.5 sublineage and have not classified as Lineage Under Monitoring (LUM) WHO.

“However, both BA.5.2 and BF.7 variants are believed to cause re-infection or have a higher infection rate due to the high number of cases in China,” he said.

In a related development, he said, the XBB variant of the Omicron subvariant dominates the transmission of Covid-19 in this country, which includes 55.4 percent of the number of samples that underwent genome sequencing, throughout last December.

He said, SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance for that period showed the dominance of that variant, followed by BA.2.75 (20.8 percent) and BQ.1 (10.8 percent) variants.

“This shows that XBB is still the main infectious variant among Malaysians since October last year. Both the XBB and BA.2.75 variants are a type of World Health Organization (WHO) LUM variant,” he said.

Noor Hisham said, the re-infection is due to a higher state of ‘immune escape’ by XBB.

“It may be due to the antibody level starting to decrease and causing re-infection to be unavoidable. Data from other countries that have experienced XBB transmission such as Singapore and India show an increase in the number of re-infection cases, especially among residents who were infected during the Delta wave or infected by VOC Omicron at least six months ago,” he said. – MESSENGER

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