KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The Ministry of Health recorded 5,522 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the second day straight the transmission rate has crossed the 5,000 mark as public health authorities prepare for yet another wave fuelled by the more contagious Omicron variant.

The number of cases reported as of noon today is close to a hundred higher than yesterday’s 5,439.

Yesterday was the first time since December 10, 2021, daily cases surpassed 5,000, the last being in early December last year when the ministry recorded 5,508 cases.

Local patients accounted for the largest number of new cases, at 5,149, but transmissions from foreigners are also on the rise, with 373 confirmed imported cases recorded.

Cumulative positive cases since the start of the pandemic are now 2,855,930.

Meanwhile the ministry recorded 23 new infection clusters, driving the number of active clusters up to 289. There have been 6,394 clusters since the pandemic started.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin warned on Wednesday that the Omicron wave has begun and the country should expect to see Covid-19 cases surge in the next few weeks, although the healthcare system is likely prepared given the high vaccination rate.

Close to 79 per cent of the total population and up to 98 per cent of the adult population have received at least two doses of the vaccine as of noon yesterday, according to the Covidnow website.

The ministry is currently ramping up efforts to administer booster shots, which several studies have indicated to be effective against the latest coronavirus strain.

Close to half of the country’s adult population has received their third shot up to yesterday, according to the Covidnow website.

Still, the infectivity rate, measured in Rt, has climbed steadily. MOH said the national Rt is now 1.15, which means for every person with Covid-19, that person is likely to infect two others.

Negri Sembilan currently has the highest Rt, at 1.21, followed by Kedah and Johor at 1.16 and 1.14 respectively.

Experts believe newer variants are the cause behind higher infectivity rate.

MOH said 62 cases involving variant of concerns (VOC) had been reported between January 25 and 28.

The cumulative cases involving VOCs are now 7,118. Delta accounted for the bulk, with 6,250 cases reported while the more contagious variant, the Omicron, were detected in 601 patients.

Just 20 from this involved variant of interest (VOI), the MOH said.