The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, can infect a larger group of people in a short span of time.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the variant, which originated from India, had a higher infectivity rate (Rt) of between 5 and 8, compared to its predecessor's 2.5 to 3.
"This means that for every 100 people infected, it could spread to 500 to 800 others.
"With the Delta variant, infections can happen within 15 seconds, and the infection is now airborne," Noor Hisham said in a joint press conference with Health Minister Dr Adham Baba yesterday, reported New Straits Times (NST).
This is a far cry from the previous strains of the coronavirus, which could pass on from an infected person to another individuals, in a span of 15 minutes, in distances of one-metre apart.
The situation calls for the public to increase their adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), such as wearing face masks, practising physical distancing, and avoid crowded and confined places.
Vaccination is a way to curb the spread of the virus in the community, he said, citing Labuan, where the Delta strain was first detected in Malaysia.
From recording a high infectivity rate of 1,340 cases per week, the number was eventually brought down with ramped up vaccination.
Yesterday, a staggering 13,215 new COVID-19 cases were recorded - the highest ever since the pandemic broke last year. One hundred ten new deaths were also reported.
These bring the number of total confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths in the country to 880,782, and 6,613, respectively.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 189 million people, and killed over 4.08 million.
Photo source: NST
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