Guess what, guys; 2021 kinda started the way 2020 ended.
With daily COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the government has decided to reinstate the Movement Control Order (MCO) in several states on Monday (11 January).
Oh, that's not the end of the bad news though: on the same day the MCO was announced, the government also announced that they detected a new COVID-19 strain in Malaysia.
A new strain
A Malaysian has reportedly tested positive for the B117 COVID-19 strain, New Straits Times
Health director-general Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah told the daily that the individual was believed to have travelled to the United Kingdom and back.
The individual, a 22-year-old male, had tested positive for the virus on 28 December.
He had since been isolated for further tests and treatment, Dr Noor Hisham said.
"The Health Ministry would like to inform that one case involving the Covid-19 B117 UK variant or 202012/01 spike protein mutation has been detected in Malaysia today.
"Since October 2020, the ministry has monitored all travellers who have returned from countries that have reported cases of this mutated variant, including from the UK, Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey, Philippines and India," he was quoted as saying.
Despite the detection, Dr Noor Hisham has assured Malaysians that there has been no outbreak in the country linked to the UK B117 variant and the government will continue to monitor the situation.
What is the B117 strain?
The B117 COVID-19 strain was first reported in the UK on 14 December 2020, according to Al-Jazeera
Experts believe that the B117 strain first appeared in mid-September, and it quickly became the dominant strain in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the UK.
Scientists are still gathering more information about the B117 strain, but early data reportedly shows that the strain is 70 per cent more transmittable
than previous COVID-19 strains.
This could be due to a mutation in how the virus enters the human cells.
Despite being more transmittable, scientists believe the new strain does not appear to cause more serious illness or increased risk of death.
The British government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, told The Telegraph UK
that the new strain "moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant".
As a result, the B117 strain is reportedly reponsible for 60 per cent of infections in London by December.
Because of how fast the strain infects the people, the UK has been put under a weeks-long national lockdown
starting last week to curb the spread of the virus.
The virus has also spread to other countries around the world, such as Denmark, Germany, France Spain, United States, Canada Australia, Japan and our neigbour Singapore.
To make things slightly worse, South Africa reported another new strain
, which appears to be a mutation of the B117 variant, just last week.
The new strain is known as 501.V2, and it is dominant among new confirmed infections in South Africa.
Judging by how crazy fast the new mutation travels and spreads, putting the country under another MCO is the right call. Stay safe out there, everyone!