|Medical workers collect swab samples from people at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia January 25, 2021.(Photo by= REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Indonesia has recorded two cases of a highly infectious COVID-19 variant first identified in India in the capital Jakarta, the country's health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said while Malaysia has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, Health Minister Adham Baba said on the weekend.
The variant, named B.1.617, was detected in an Indian national screened at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, he said. Malaysia, which is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, on Wednesday banned flights to and from India and prohibited travelers from any Indian destination from entering the country to prevent the spread of the new variant. The nation also imposed a ban on flights from India.
"There were two new mutations that entered. One from India, with two incidents in Jakarta and one from South Africa in Bali," Budi told a virtual conference. Another official confirmed the two cases were the B1617 variant, first detected in India. Indonesia last week stopped issuing visas for foreigners who had been in India in the previous 14 days. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has described it as a "variant of interest", suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade vaccine immunity.