Khairy (left) speaks at a press conference while Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah looks on. – Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 20): Omicron will invariably surpass Delta as the primary Covid-19 variant of concern here as nine in 10 cases arriving in the country were of the former, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

Khairy also repeated his warning of a possible surge in cases between February and March based on his ministry’s projection that took into account the growing prevalence of Omicron cases.

“So, it will be a matter of time before Omicron overtakes Delta in the local cases, and the modelling we do at the Health Ministry suggests that Omicron cases and cases in general will rise in February and March.

“What we are seeing, however, is that the cases are not serious or as serious as Delta.

“So, we have not seen a corresponding rise in hospitalisations, certainly not in deaths and also in admission to intensive care units,” he said in a press conference here.

Khairy said the ministry’s assumption at the moment was that Omicron will create a new wave of cases that would not necessarily overwhelm the country’s healthcare system unlike with Delta last year.

Just last month, Khairy had warned of an imminent surge in new Covid-19 cases involving the highly transmissible Covid-19 Omicron variant since the virus has already begun to spread within the community.

Khairy said the present situation was exacerbated by some international arrivals who were found to have breached their quarantine order.

On whether the ministry will be undertaking a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) before the retabling of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act (Act 342) amendment Bill in Parliament, Khairy said the matter had been referred to the Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC).

“MPC response was that the amendment to Act 342 does not need to go through the RIA process as it is included in matters relating to national security.

“However, we need to submit a Regulatory Notification to the MPC for documentation, so that no matter arises in the future,” he said.

He also sought to dispel misconceptions surrounding Act 342, asserting that the government was attempting to future-proof the legislation for all infectious diseases and not just Covid-19.

When asked further if all infectious diseases were considered matters of national security, Khairy replied in the absolute. – Malay Mail