These are some quick updates you should know about the current scenario of the threat, since the first case was reported on Dec 3 in the country:
- A second case of the strain has been reported, involving a local eight-year-old girl, who arrived in Malaysia with her mother and sister, from Lagos, Nigeria, on Dec 5. The mother and sister have tested negative for the virus, but nevertheless, the trio have been ordered to undergo 14 days of quarantine.
- No large-scale celebrations for Christmas and New Year's Eve will be allowed, in light of Omicron threat, Health Ministry Khairy Jamaluddin has announced. However, smaller private parties will be allowed, provided that all attendees perform a COVID-19 self-test before attending the events.
- All Sinovac vaccine recipients, as well as recipients of other vaccines aged 60 years old and above, must get their booster shots the latest by February next year - failing which they will lose their fully-vaccinated status. This after studies showed that immunity derived from two shots of vaccine, as well as a natural COVID-19 infection, does not accord enought protection against the Omicron variant.
- The government is mulling opening large COVID-19 vaccination centres (PPVs) in the Klang Valley to expedite the administration of booster doses. Also being considered is shorterning the interval between the second dose and the booster dose - details of which will be discussed and announced soon.
- Omicron also led the National Unity Ministry to bar Thaipusam processions and kavadi bearing on January 18 next year, but following backlash, Putrajaya has said that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the religious event are still being sorted out, and will be announced soon.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that Omicron has spread to at least 77 countries, and is set to become the dominant strain in Europe by next month. This because the large number of mutations in the strain makes it far more transmissible than the Delta variant, causing COVID-19 cases to double up every two to three days in certain countries.
- Preliminary reports have said that despite its high-transmissibility rate, Omicron causes less severe symptoms in those infected. The strain also has a higher rate of reinfection among people who had caught earlier versions of the virus.
- Omicron has been found to lower protection gained from two shots of the vaccine, regardless of their make. This is what is driving many countries to ramp up their vaccination drive, and others, to speed up the administration of booster doses.
Photo source: npr.org