KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — The Health Ministry said today there is a possibility that the new Sivagangga cluster from Kedah, may be caused by a super-spreader strain of the Covid-19 virus.
Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry was informed of a super-spreader Covid-19 strain that originated from countries such as Egypt and Pakistan.
He said the particular cluster had a faster rate of transmission compared with previous Covid-19 clusters.
“We will have to look at the samples in the labs and see if the genome sequence matches.
“At present, studies are being carried out to see if it is a ‘Genome 164’ cluster, which is the super-spreader cluster,” said Dr Noor Hisham in the daily Covid-19 update.
Today, six new positive Covid-19 cases were recorded in the Persons Under Investigation (PUI) Sivagangga cluster in Kedah are found to be second generation infections.
Earlier, Dr Noor Hisham said the authorities are currently screening their close contacts through active case detection.
“The figure brings the total number of people infected with the virus at 30 as of 12pm today.,” he said.
The Sivagangga cluster has been linked to the nasi kandar eatery in Jitra, Kedah.
Of the six cases, Dr Noor Hisham explained that they were discovered by authorities following active case detection from the cluster.
He said that one of the six new cases is from Kulim and a close contact of a family member who had gone to the nasi kandar eatery involved in the cluster.
“The case, which started experiencing breathing problems on August 2, was tested positive for Covid-19 on August 5 and was subsequently warded in the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Star, Kedah.
“The case family members have all been screened and are awaiting their results,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
A total of 15 other close contacts from the case have been identified and the cause of infection is still under investigation, said Dr Noor Hisham.
On the remaining five cases, Dr Noor Hisham said all are from one family who were known to have a history of visiting the areas which have now come under the administrative enhanced movement control order (EMCO) in Kedah.
“The family members have since been admitted to the Sultan Bahiyah Hospital In Alor Setar for treatment and the cause of infection is being investigated,” he said.
Responding to a question, Dr Noor Hisham said both the Sivagangga (in Kedah) and Ulu Tiram (in Johor) clusters were new targeted groups for Covid-19 screening.
He assured the public that the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia was still under control as the virus’ effective reproduction rate (or rT) as of today stood at 0.58.
“At present it is under control and there would only be a rise in infections only if the rT reached 1.6,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
The Sivagangga cluster of Covid-19 cases in Kedah has kept the state on alert in just one week since it has been announced.
A total of 2,351 people linked to the cluster have been screened, of which 1,617 tested negative and 704 are awaiting results.