Dr Noor Hisham: Spike in Covid infections during festive season unlikely


Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Health, Putrajaya January 10, 2023. — Bernama photo

PUTRAJAYA (Jan 10): The Ministry of Health (MoH) does not expect to see a spike in new Covid-19 cases during the upcoming festive season, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said that after the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1, 2022, where various festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Aidiladha and Christmas were celebrated, and the 15th General Election was held, there was no surge in cases reported.

“During the more than eight-month period, we were able to bring the cases under control even though we have reopened the country’s borders as well as all sectors and allowed all festive celebrations and gatherings,” he said at an engagement session with the media here today.

Dr Noor Hisham said new Covid-19 cases in the country were on a downward trend where less than 500 new cases were recorded daily in the last two weeks, compared to between 3,000 and 4,000 cases a few months before.

He said vaccinations were also seen to still be able to provide protection against Covid-19.

Dr Noor Hisham said the MoH would continue to monitor travellers arriving from abroad as well as the development of new cases and variants in other countries.

“We are now closely monitoring new variants and every time there is a mutation in Omicron subvariants. Although cases are expected to increase with each variant BA1, BA2, BA4 and BA5, it did not happen.

“This gives us confidence that the existing vaccines are able to provide protection for each individual against the Omicron variant,” he said adding that so far, no new variant of Covid-19 has been detected in the country, including the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant or ‘Kraken’ which is now the most dominant strain in the US.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), XBB.1.5 is a descendant of the Omicron XBB subvariant which is itself a cross between two earlier strains, BA.2.75 and BA.2.10.1. Experts called the Omicron XBB.1.5 strain “Kraken” as it has the potential to trigger a large wave of Covid-19.

The WHO labelled the strain as ‘the most infectious subvariant ever detected’, with the XBB.1.5 subvariant making up the majority of infections in the US. — Bernama