Dr Noor Hisham: Kedah’s Sungai, Sivagangga, Tawar clusters likely from same Covid-19 strain

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said past laboratory studies had confirmed the genetic mutation of the viruses discovered in Tawar and Sivagangga were similar. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said past laboratory studies had confirmed the genetic mutation of the viruses discovered in Tawar and Sivagangga were similar. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — The Health Ministry said today it suspected the Sungai cluster in Kedah shared the same genetic mutation from the Covid-19 virus detected in both the Tawar and Sivagangga clusters previously.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said past laboratory studies had confirmed the genetic mutation of the viruses discovered in Tawar and Sivagangga — both in Kedah as well — were similar, adding that the virus strain, however, was different to the one discovered in Ulu Tiram, Johor previously.

“We have already ended our 28-day surveillance period of the Sivagangga cluster, but for Tawar, we are still monitoring closely. What is certain is that the genome is the same as Sivagangga.

“For the Sungai cluster, we are still running isolation and viral culture, which may take time, but we suspect the virus for the cluster, a big possibility, involves the same virus,” he said in his weekly press briefing here.

The D614G variant has earned a distinct reputation for reportedly being 10 times more likely to infect other individuals and easier to spread by “super spreader” individuals, compared with the previous D614 variant.

The Health Ministry previously detected a mutation identified as D614G type in samples taken from patients-under-investigation (PUI) in the Sivagangga cluster.

The Sungai cluster first emerged after a symptomatic medical staff failed to seek medical treatment and tested positive on September 5.

A total of 58 people from Kedah and Penang screened within the cluster have tested positive as of September 14.

Following a spike in cases involving the Tawar, Sivagangga, and Sungai cluster in Kedah, Putrajaya had announced an administrative enhanced movement control order (EMCO) will be imposed on the Kota Setar district in Kedah on September 11 until September 25.

Dr Noor Hisham said, it was estimated that 15,000 high-risk individuals from 10 sub-districts (mukim) have been identified for screening.

The 10 mukims were Pumpong, Alor Merah, Alor Malai, Derga, Kuala Kedah, Pengkalan Kundor, Kota Setar, Langgar, Titi gajah and Mergong.

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