KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — The RTK-Antigen and RT-PCR tests to detect Covid-19 infection are effective in detecting the Omicron variant of the virus, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said he was informed of this by experts from the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) but tests were still being conducted to know more about this variant.
"The RT-PCR test should be OK, but in terms of effectiveness, we are still studying it but so far, it is still able to detect the Omicron variant," he said at a press conference after an appreciation event held for officers and staff of the National Health Institute, here, today.
He said a further study on the variant did not only involve detection tests but also on the effectiveness of the vaccines.
"We will be getting reports in a week or two from the vaccine manufacturers which are conducting research on the effectiveness of the vaccines against this variant.
"The third thing we should look into is the ferocity of the Omicron variant. Early reports from South Africa which has a low vaccination rate show that the Omicron has only caused moderate symptoms. There are some good news, but again we don't really know and we have to wait and see,” he added.
Khairy said it was also too early to expect the movement control order (MCO) to be re-imposed following the emergence of Omicron.
“It is too early to talk about it. The public gets angry when they hear MCO. Our researchers are looking into this,” he said.
On the travel bubble and the need for home quarantine and at hotels for travellers returning from any country categorised as risky, he said these would be discussed with the health director-general this afternoon.
"We have several options to consider so that we can tighten our borders,” he added.
On the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), Khairy said the matter was still being discussed with Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei, considering the emergence of the new variant.
On the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the Sarawak State Election (PRN), Khairy said more information on this would be obtained tomorrow and an announcement would be made soon. — Bernama