KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Health director-general (DG) Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today revealed that 15 active Covid-19 clusters involve old folks’ homes, and promised that standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been ramped up to protect the vulnerable group from further infections.

During a press address today, Dr Noor Hisham said in total, 21 such clusters have been detected since the arrival of the virus in Malaysia, with 610 total resulting cases — comprising 583 Malaysians and 27 non-Malaysians.

“The total number screened so far in old folks’ homes is 1,840 individuals, and the fatality rate is 1.48 per cent, slightly higher than the national fatality rate of 1.38. And we have nine cases of fatalities documented so far,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said compliance with SOPs, both old and new, was key to keeping infection rates at the premises down.

“We have put on hold any physical gathering activities at old folks’ homes. And MoH has provided periodic assessment at old folks’ homes as well.

“More importantly is that what we need is to protect this vulnerable group, I think follow the SOPs, and make sure there is no face-to-face engagement in terms of visitors coming in. They have to comply with the SOPs as we have been doing,” he said.

The elderly and chronically ill have statistically made up the most Covid-19 deaths reported in Malaysia.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme is already underway, with its first phase — aiming to vaccinate some 500,000 front line workers — scheduled to end in April.

The elderly will be the next in line to receive the vaccine during the second phase, set to occur from April to August.