COVID-19 | About half of Covid-19 cases outside of Sabah has been linked to the outbreak in the state, according to Malaysiakini’s tally based on information released by the Health Ministry.
This came following a surge of Covid-19 cases in Sabah and increased travel and interactions due to the recently concluded Sabah state election.
According to the tally, there have been 142 cases of Covid-19 in Malaysia apart from Sabah since Sept 20, when the ministry began providing more information on such cases.
Based on Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s daily press releases, 94 of these cases are locally transmitted cases, of which 49 have been linked to travel in Sabah.
The cases include the Setapak cluster in Kuala Lumpur (three cases) and the Jalan Apas cluster (eight cases) in Klang, where travellers returning from Sabah are found to have passed on the disease to family members and housemates who have not travelled there.
Other notable cases are that of Umno supreme council member Mohd Razlan Rafii and Umno Youth deputy chief Shahril Hamdan, who tested positive after returning from campaign activities in Sabah.
The ministry had sounded the alarm on Covid-19 cases among Sabah travellers on Sept 25, when Noor Hisham said 10 such cases had been reported between Sept 20 and Sept 25. The next day, he said 11 more cases had been discovered.
At the time, he said all those showing symptoms of the disease following travel in red zones (Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kunak, and Semporna) must undergo Covid-19 testing, which those who don’t have symptoms are also encouraged to get tested and quarantine themselves.
Beginning Sept 26, which was also the polling day for the Sabah state election, Noor Hisham’s press releases also started mentioning new cases that were detected through “screening of individuals returning from high-risk areas (Sabah)”.
Effective Sept 27 until Oct 10, travellers arriving from Sabah are also required to undergo mandatory testing and be held in quarantine until test results are available.
Starting today, an administratively enforced targeted enhanced movement control order has also been imposed on the districts of Lahad Datu, Tawau, Kunak, and Semporna in a bid to curb the spread of the disease.
Sabah has been experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases since the beginning of this month, after the Benteng LD cluster was discovered on Sept 1.
While the outbreak initially appeared to be confined to detention facilities in Tawau and Lahad Datu, subsequent developments have made it clear there is widespread community transmission of the disease.
Up to yesterday, the Benteng LD cluster has recorded 873 cases. Of these, 675 are prisoners and detainees, 25 are police personnel and prison officers, and 31 are family members of the staff and prisoners.
However, the second-largest category of Benteng LD cases is social contacts of the above cases, with 142 detected so far.
Since the Benteng LD cluster was first reported, nine more clusters have been detected in the state for a total of 1,189 cases between them.
There are 1,352 Covid-19 cases reported in Sabah since Sept 1, meaning that 163 cases are not identified as part of any cluster.
While some of these cases were imported from abroad, many more were detected when patients turned up for screening for various reasons, such as in preparation for surgery for an unrelated condition, during workplace or community screening, when symptoms appear, or even after the patient had already died.
In comparison, only 342 cases have been reported in the rest of Malaysia since Sept 1, including imported cases.
Most of these were reported in Kedah (137 cases), which is still battling to contain several clusters, particularly the Tawar cluster and Sungai cluster.