The XBB strain seems to be as transmissible as the current variants but there’s no evidence that it causes more severe illness.
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Previously, Singapore’s Health Ministry said the number of Covid-19 cases in the republic had increased last month due to the Omicron XBB subvariant and expects the number of infections to peak in mid-November.
According to New Straits Times, the XBB strain has been detected recently in Malaysia following a small wave of infections.
In light of this, Malaysia’s Health Ministry (KKM) expects a slight increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the next few weeks.
Its caretaker health minister Khairy Jamaluddin advised the public to keep cool and to stay vigilant as the country is still transitioning to the endemic phase.
So far, Khairy said the Omicron subvariant XBB has not led to an increase in hospital admissions and deaths, noting that it’s the most important measurement of the spread of infections.
To what extent cases will increase, my officials at the ministry are making a projection based on the infection model we have before and next week I will be able to give a more accurate projection.Caretaker health minister Khairy Jamaluddin
For now, the ministry has no plans to reinstate any restrictions, including enforcing the wearing of face masks.
The transition to the endemic phase must take into account the mutation of the virus to a new variant, if an unexpected new variant can increase infectivity, effects and symptoms, only then will we review (face mask requirement), but so far it is not necessary.Caretaker health minister Khairy Jamaluddin
KKM has also sent a proposed standard operating procedure (SOP) to the Election Commission for the 15th general election (GE15).
Khairy explained that no additional measures or restrictions were introduced since the situation is under control.
What’s the XBB strain?
Based on a report by the Malay Mail, the XBB is a strain of the Omicron variant. Also known as BA.2.10, it evolved from the existing BA.2 Omicron subvariant strain.
The Edge reported that the XBB subvariant was first detected in August in India.
It has since been detected in more than 17 countries, including Singapore, Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Japan and the US.
On 12 August, The Star reported that the XBB strain, especially the XBB.1 strain that was detected in Hong Kong, has the strongest ability by far to evade vaccine protection.
Over in Singapore, the XBB strain is believed to be driving an increase in reinfections and has the government mulling the reintroduction of the face mask mandate.
Singapore’s Health Ministry said the XBB variant seems to be as transmissible as the current variants but there’s no evidence that it causes more severe illness.
Due to several false reports, the Singapore government clarified that there are no increases in Covid-19 deaths over the past month and no ‘pile up’ cases in mortuaries, funeral parlours and crematoria.