As state election campaigning gets underway, Health Ministry reports new Covid-19 cluster in Kunak, Sabah

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya September 10, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya September 10, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — With campaigning for the Sabah state elections in full swing, the Health Ministry announced today the emergence of a new Covid-19 cluster in Kunak, Sabah.

Dubbed the Pulau cluster, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said a total of nine individuals have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, with the index case being a 68-year-old local woman with comorbidity initially testing positive on September 13.

“The woman was found unconscious at home and brought to Hospital Kunak, and then referred to Tawau Hospital for medical treatment where she tested positive.

“She is currently warded at the Intensive Care Unit but requires breathing assistance,” he said during his bi-weekly press briefing here.

Kunak is a town and district in Tawau, Sabah.

Following the test result, Dr Noor Hisham said close contact screening and active case detection revealed another eight new cases amongst the woman’s family members.

As of September 15, a total of 128 individuals have been screened involving 109 Malaysians and 19 non-Malaysians.

“Eighteen individuals have returned negative results while 101 individuals are awaiting their results,” Dr Noor Hisham added.

He also said the cause of the infection was still being investigated and measures to curb the spread of the virus from this cluster are being intensified.

Apart from the Pulau cluster, two major active Covid-19 clusters have emerged in Sabah in recent weeks — namely the Benteng LD cluster and Tawau cluster — involving detainees at a police lockup and prison.

Dr Noor Hisham also stressed that the public must comply with the stipulated standard operating procedures, in particular avoiding confined and crowded spaces.

“As far as elections are concerned, we have an SOP for them, but again, we encourage the public to comply with the SOP. So basically, try to avoid confined spaces and crowded places, and practise physical distancing, putting on face masks and frequent hand washing. That is the basics.

“If we do that, we can break the chain of infection of around 75 to 85 per cent. That’s something the rakyat can do, but more importantly, frontliners must comply with the clinical practices given to them as well,” he said.

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