The new coronavirus variant also led to calls for more vaccine equity in the world.
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A new Covid-19 variant from South Africa named B.1.1.529 was discovered and first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 24 November.
WHO has named this new variant Omicron and declared it as a Variant of Concern (VOC).
According to WHO, the Omicron variant has many mutations and evidence points to an increased reinfection risk.
The variant has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
In a report by BBC, some countries have banned or restricted travel to and from southern Africa.
Travel restrictions in Malaysia
Malaysians are not allowed to travel to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe for the foreseeable future starting 27 November due to concerns about the new variant.
Malaysian citizens and permanent residents returning to Malaysia from these seven countries will need to undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days at a government facility.
According to Malaysiakini, they are not allowed to undergo a home quarantine.
Travellers with a 14-day travel history from the seven listed countries will not be allowed to enter Malaysia as of 26 November 2021.
To clarify, returning Malaysians & residents (PR, work pass) who have a 14-day travel history to these countries will need to do mandatory 14 days quarantine at a designated centre. Foreign travelers with the same travel history will not be allowed to come to Malaysia, for now. https://t.co/qNP3HkCKaz— Khairy Jamaluddin 🇲🇾🌺 (@Khairykj) November 26, 2021
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also said swab samples would be taken for genomic sequencing purposes.
So far, there’s no evidence of the new Omicron variant in Malaysia based on the genomic surveillance carried out on 26 November.
Calls for more vaccine equity
The spread of Omicron also led to calls for more vaccine equity globally, seeing that South Africa has a low vaccine uptake.
The new #COVID19 virus variant – Omicron – has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. This is why we need to speed up our efforts to deliver on #VaccinEquity ASAP and protect the most vulnerable everywhere. https://t.co/b9QBMJXtJl— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 26, 2021
First of all, kudos to South Africa for sharing the data so quickly. The B.1.1.529 is now Omicron.— Ghows Azzam 🇲🇾 (@Ghows) November 27, 2021
Pfizer said it needs 2 weeks to analyse their vaccine efficacy against Omicron.
More evidence to show that vaccine equity is very important. Africa vaccination rate is very low. https://t.co/jRiMibsI4D