Malaysia expects the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron will soon become dominant in the country, raising concerns given its possible higher transmission rate, health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement on Monday.
The “dramatic rise” in the BA.2 subvariant requires attention, said Noor Hisham. Cases involving BA.2 have climbed to 27.1% in the period from March 1 to March 17, compared to 0.9% and 2.7% in January and February respectively, according to Noor Hisham.
“A similar situation is also seen in some countries such as Denmark, India, and Nepal,” said Noor Hisham. Ongoing studies and surveillance reveal that Omicron has already begun replacing Delta as the dominant coronavirus variant in Malaysia, he added.
The findings come just as Malaysia prepares to reopen its international borders for the first time in two years on April 1. The country added 19,105 new covid cases on Sunday, down from 22,341 a day earlier, according to health ministry data.
The BA.2 subvariant of omicron is driving up cases in Europe and now accounts for about 30% of infections in the US, where indoor-mask and vaccine requirements have largely been rolled back.