Fact Check : New Deadly African COVID-19 Variant?

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A voice message on a new deadly (South) African COVID-19 variant in Malaysia has gone viral on WhatsApp.

Find out what’s going on, and what the FACTS really are!


Fact Check : New Deadly African COVID-19 Variant?

A voice message on the (South) African variant of the COVID-19 virus in Malaysia has gone viral on WhatsApp.

The person speaking in Bahasa Malaysia claims that his family has 17 doctors, and this was an update from his doctor friends at the Rotary Club.

You can listen to it below, or read our English summary right below.

According to his friends and relatives who are doctors, there are no beds available for those aged 70 years and above in Kuala Lumpur, and 48 to 60 people are dying every day.

He warned that this (South) African COVID-19 variant cannot be detected by any test, and strikes the lungs directly.

Its victims die in a day before reaching the hospital, feeling normal in the day but succumbing at night, without even a fever.

He said there are many cases of this new African COVID-19 variant in Kuala Lumpur, affecting people in their 30s and 40s. Even children of 6-7 years of age have died from it in KL.

He reminded everyone that the DG Health of Malaysia, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, warned that there will be 10,000 cases per day in Kuala Lumpur by the end of this week, or next week.

And there’s no way to stop that. These days, 40 to 60 people are dying every day in Kuala Lumpur. Soon, it will be hundreds of dead every day.

He also said that this is not just happening in KL, but also in Johor Bahru, Pasir Gudang, etc. And he warns that the hospitals will not accept those who are infected.

He pointed out India as an example, saying that dead bodies are lined up on the roadside. At the Delhi Airport, there are hundreds of bodies lined up on its road.


New Deadly African COVID-19 Variant In Malaysia? Not Quite

This voice message is yet more FAKE NEWS shared on WhatsApp… which should really be called the Fake News Network (FNN).

Any person who has to tell you how many doctors he has in his family obviously should not be trusted.

Even though he was trying to scare people into complying with common-sense COVID-19 precautions, we still need to clarify the facts, which are…

Fact #1 : The South African Variant Isn’t New

The man is possibly referring to the South African COVID-19 variant known as B.1.351., which isn’t really new.

It was first reported in South Africa in October 2020, and detected in Malaysia in March 2021 with four cases in Selangor.

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Fact #2 : South African Variant Not As Deadly As UK Variant

Both the UK and South African variants are about 50% more infectious, but only the UK variant appears to be more deadly than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.

According to the CDC, says there appears to be increased severity with the UK variant (B.1.1.7), but not with the South African variant (B.1.351).

On the other hand, the South African variant is more resistant to antiviral and antibody treatments.

It is true that the DG of Health, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said that VOCs (Variants of Concern) were spreading rapidly and linked to high fatality rates.

However, he was speaking in general about VOCs, of which three have been detected in Malaysia – B.1.351 (South Africa), B.1.1.7 (UK) and B.1.617.1 (India).

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Fact #3 : No Hospital Has Turned Away COVID-19 Patients Yet

As far as we can determine, no public hospital in Malaysia has turned away any COVID-19 patients, not even if they are 70 years or older.

There is no need to, as not all COVID-19 patients need to be hospitalised. Most of them end up in low-risk COVID-19 quarantine centres at places like MAEPS.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 situation in the Klang Valley is dire, with 79% of ICU beds in this area allocated to COVID-19 patients.

Fortunately, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah announced on 19 May 2021 that they were able to increase the number of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients by repurposing normal wards.

Of course, this is not an ideal situation, but it allows the Health Ministry to avoid turning away patients with severe COVID-19.

Fact #4 : Highest Daily Death Toll In Malaysia Was 47

The claim that 48 to 60 people are dying every day in Kuala Lumpur is ludicrous, and FALSE.

The highest daily death toll in the entire country was 47 deaths on 18 May 2021.

Fact #5 : No Children Died In May 2021

The claim that children of 6-7 years old have died from this (South) African variant in KL recently is also FALSE.

The youngest person to die in May 2021 was a 17 year-old youth, who had leukaemia and passed away in Johor on 19 May 2021.

And the youngest person to die in 2021 was a 9 year-old boy, who passed away in Sabah in February 2021.

No 6- or 7-year old child ever died in Malaysia from COVID-19 to date.

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Inside a COVID-19 ICU. Photo Credit : China Daily Cdic / Reuters

Fact #6 : DG Health Never Said KL Would Hit 10,000 Cases By Next Week

The DG Health of Malaysia, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, did mention the possibility that Malaysia may hit 10,000 daily cases, or even 20,000 cases a day.

However, it was always in the context of the ENTIRE COUNTRY. He certainly never said that Kuala Lumpur would hit 10,000 cases by the end of this week, or next week.

Fact #7 : No Evidence Of Dead Bodies Lining Road At Delhi Airport

It is true that many people are dying in India, but we simply cannot find evidence of hundreds of dead bodies lining the road at Delhi Airport.

Rather, hundreds of unclaimed bodies of COVID-19 victims were found floating in the Ganges river. And bodies are piled up at crematoriums and make-shift cremation grounds.

Why would anyone place dead bodies at the Delhi Airport road???

Fact #8 : Ministry Of Health Called It Fake

The Malaysia Ministry of Health naturally labelled the audio as FAKE NEWS.

They also warned that those sharing the fake audio message could be prosecuted for sharing fake news.

So please stop sharing the audio message. Share this fact check with your family and friends instead!


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