Old Voice Note On COVID-19 Deaths In Malaysia Gone Viral!

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An old voice note on staggering COVID-19 deaths in Malaysia from a new African variant has gone viral on WhatsApp! Here is what you need to know…


Voice Note On COVID-19 Deaths In Malaysia Goes Viral!

An old voice note on staggering COVID-19 deaths in Malaysia has gone viral on WhatsApp. It claims that a new African variant has caused a massive surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths, with many people in Malaysia “brought in dead” (BID).

The voice message is sometimes accompanied by warnings like this:


The voice note claims that hospitals in Malaysia no longer have beds for patients who are 70 years or older, and 48-60 people are dying every day in Kuala Lumpur.

The man on the voice note claims that the new African variant enters the lungs directly, and cannot be detected by COVID-19 tests. He also claimed that many younger people – 30 to 40 years old – have been infected by this new variant.

The man also claimed that the DG Health of Malaysia said that by next week, there will be ten thousand infections a day.

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Viral Voice Note On COVID-19 Deaths In Malaysia Is Old!

This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on WhatsApp, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : Voice Note Is From 2021

When I was first asked to fact check the viral voice note, I immediately remembered that it went viral in 2021 – more than two years ago!

Fact #2 : KKM Says Voice Note Is Fake News

On Sunday, 3 December 2023, the Malaysia Ministry of Health (KKM) publicly labelled the viral voice note as fake news (archive). Here is the English translation of their post:

There is a recording of a ‘Voice Note’ that went viral recently claiming that the beds in hospital wards are full and not enough, and commenting that the death rate is increasing in ‘brought in dead’ (BID) cases, as well as the spread of new epidemics from African countries has caused sudden death at one time.

The Ministry of Health would like to inform you that this voice note went viral in 2021 and is now widely distributed through the WhatsApp application to cause public anxiety.

Accordingly, the public is requested not to spread this false news that can cause panic in the community and to always be vigilant against the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic that is still around us. Make sure you take public health preventive measures by always practicing 3W, Avoid 3S, do a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms, get the COVID-19 vaccine including a booster dose, and get early treatment and the antiviral Paxlovid if you test positive for COVID-19.

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Fact #3 : African Variant Is Omicron Variant

The African variant mentioned in the viral voice note is actually the B.1.1.529 variant that was identified in 2021. The WHO identified it a variant of concern on 26 November 2021, and renamed it as the Omicron variant.

Fact #4 : Omicron Variant Is Less Virulent

Omicron and its sub-variants have been the dominant COVID-19 variants worldwide for the past two years. They have proven to be highly infectious, but fortunately, much less virulent than the original virus and the Delta variant.

Hence, the claims that the (South) African variant (which is now known as Omicron) are killing many people isn’t true. Thanks to mass vaccination, and the lower virulence of the Omicron variant, hospitals are no longer filled with dying patients.

Fact #5 : COVID-19 Tests Can Detect Omicron Variant

The claim that the (South) African variant (which is now known as Omicron) cannot be detected by current COVID-19 tests is nonsense. The current COVID-19 tests are more than capable of detecting Omicron variant infections.

In fact, these tests have not changed fundamentally – we have been using the same COVID-19 lab and home tests to detect Omicron infections for the past two years.

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Fact #6 : COVID-19 Is Increasing In Malaysia

That said, it is important not to be complacent. COVID-19 infections are actually trending upwards in Malaysia.

On the same day the old voice note went viral, the current Malaysia Director-General of Health Dr. Muhammad Radzi said that there gas been a 57.3% increase in COVID-19 cases from November 19-25, compared to the week earlier.

Fortunately, the vast majority of the cases (98%) are only showing mild symptoms. Even so, we should all take precautions, to avoid getting infected.

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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