Malaysian Health Ministry Reports Surge In Weekly COVID-19 Cases; Omicron Variant Emerges

The Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) disclosed that during the 46th Epidemiology Week (ME 46/2023), spanning from November 12 to November 18, 2023, the country recorded a total of 2,305 new COVID-19 cases. This marks a substantial increase of 28.0 percent compared to the previous week, with 1,801 cases reported in ME 45/2023 (November 5 to November 11, 2023).

Despite the surge in cases, the admission rate of COVID-19 patients to health facilities saw a decline, reaching 2.0 per 100,000 population in ME 46/2023 compared to the previous week. In the same period, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed occupancy was reported at 0.4 percent, and non-critical COVID-19 bed occupancy stood at 0.7 percent, indicating a level of control over the situation.

However, the emergence of the Omicron variant has added a new layer of concern. In ME 46/2023, a total of 21 new Omicron variant cases were reported, comprising 20 cases of Variant of Concern (VOC) and 1 case of Variant of Interest (VOi). The cumulative cases of currently circulating VOi, including XBB.1.16, XBB.1.5, and EG.5, have reached 785 cases, with 783 local cases and 2 imported cases.

Geographically, the breakdown of Omicron variant cases includes 143 in Sarawak, 136 in Selangor, 119 in WP Kuala Lumpur, 117 in Melaka, 59 in Johor, 52 in Kedah, 37 in Penang, 24 in Terengganu, 23 in Sabah, 21 in Kelantan, 16 in Negeri Sembilan, 12 in Perlis, 9 each in Perak and WP Putrajaya, and 8 in Pahang.

Up to ME 45/2023, surveillance activities for Influenza-Like Illness (Ill) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) found 61 Ill samples tested positive for COVID-19, with a positive rate of 7.0 percent. Additionally, 69 SARI samples had a positive rate of 3.0 percent in ME 45/2023.

While the COVID-19 situation remains under control in Malaysia, health authorities are closely monitoring the rising cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant, emphasizing the importance of continued vigilance and adherence to preventive measures.

Picture from East Asia Forum

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