2 January 2023
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says another 288 samples from various sites in the country also tested positive for the Omicron variant.
Covid-19 environmental surveillance using sewage water conducted between June and December showed that 96.5%, or 28 out of 29 samples taken from international entry points contained the presence of the Omicron variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the result for the 28 samples have returned from the national public health laboratory while one more sample was still being tested.
In the same period, the lab also received 301 samples from 15 sentinel locations representing each state in the country.
“SarsCoV-2 was detected in 288 samples (95.7%), and they were positive for Omicron. Three samples had no presence of the virus, while 10 are still being tested,” he said in a statement here.
He said Malaysia’s Covid-19 environmental surveillance is meant to be a supplementary surveillance for the virus in line with the country’s transition to the endemic phase.
According to Noor Hisham, detecting the presence of Sars-CoV-2 in sewage water samples provided early warning by allowing the health ministry to get an idea on the virus density trend, identify the variants in the community and monitor the intervention controls’ effectiveness in general.
“For sentinel locations in each state, sewage samples are taken from selected sewage treatment plants by the respective district health office. About two or three samples are taken from each location monthly depending on the need. The samples are then sent to the lab for testing.
“For samples from entry points, risk assessment is continually conducted to identify countries with risk. Based on the assessment, all flights from the country are then further studied by the KLIA health office,” he said.
He added that the sewage water from every aircraft is removed using lavatory trucks and taken to aircraft waste disposal facilities (AWDF), which is coordinated by airport ground handlers.
After a targeted flight is identified, the sampling is conducted by the health office at KLIA with the assistance of airport authorities before the sewage water is taken to the AWDF.
Noor Hisham said sewage sampling from aircraft is done twice weekly, adding that one litre is taken from selected aircraft.
He said that due to the current situation, the sampling only involved flights from China.
He added this would help the health ministry detect Sars-CoV-2 variants at entry points as a control measure to face the current situation.
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