KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — Standard operating procedure (SOP) violations during and after formal schooling sessions were amongst factors contributing to the rise in Covid-19 clusters involving education institutions, particularly those of boarding schools.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said other contributing factors included unsatisfactory levels in mask usage, especially in boarding schools, students breaching isolation orders, symptomatic teaching staff showing up for work, and close interactions between students.
“From the first epidemiology week until January 19, there were 52 education clusters of which 30 clusters or 57.7 per cent involved secondary schools.
“Out of the 30 clusters, 27 or 90 per cent were boarding schools,” he said in a press conference here.
From the 52 clusters reported, Khairy said the index cases of 44 involved students, five involved teaching staff and three involved supporting staff in the respective education institutions.
He compared the significant rise in Covid-19 clusters between the first and second schooling week that began earlier this month, when a total of 33 clusters were reported as compared to 15 when schools started, doubling within the span of a week.
When asked if the ministry would take drastic measures such as ordering the closure of boarding schools, Khairy said there was no necessity to do so as most infections recorded only suffered mild symptoms.
“I see that there is no need for us to close these schools, I think it is a step backwards.
“We will take mitigation measures on emerging clusters as we have said in the past, we are transitioning towards an endemic phase so there is no need to trouble these students and their parents,” he said.
He assured that the ministry will be having discussions with the Education Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry at the soonest to strengthen containment measures within education institutions nationwide.