Health DG: Benteng LD cluster under control

The cluster only involves positive cases among undocumented immigrants who entered the country through illegal routes


THE number of Covid-19 positive cases in the country jumped further when 100 new cases were recorded as of noon yesterday, involving 85 local transmissions and 15 import cases.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of the local cases yesterday, 62 were from the Benteng Lahad Datu (LD) cluster in Sabah which first emerged on Sept 1.

He added that the remaining 23 cases were detected in the Sungai cluster in Kedah that was identified on Sunday.

However, Dr Noor Hisham assured that the Benteng cluster is still under control despite the rise in new positive cases.

“The Benteng cluster in Lahad Datu and Tawau is under control and it does not involve the local community out there.

The cluster only involves positive cases among undocumented immigrants who entered the country through illegal routes.

“It is part of Ops Benteng and the authorities are working hard to prevent the entry of undocumented migrants into Malaysia,” he said in his Covid-19 press conference yesterday.

He added that the ministry had screened 2,010 individuals related to the Benteng LD cluster to date and 62 tested positive to Covid-19, while 1,325 are still waiting for their results.

The increase in new cases brought the country’s overall Covid-19 cases to 9,559.

There are 295 active cases being treated at health facilities nationwide. Among the active cases yesterday, seven were placed in the intensive care unit, with four of them requiring respiratory aid.

Meanwhile, 12 patients were discharged yesterday, increasing the total recovered cases in the country to 9,136, which equals to 95.6%. The Covid-19 death toll remained at 128.

Dr Noor Hisham urged medical frontliners and staff, as well as personnel from other government agencies to take extra precaution amid the recent spike in infections.

He added that the Covid-19 infectivity value or R-naught (R0) has increased to 1.72, compared to 0.72 two weeks ago.

“This sudden increase is indicative of a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission in the country. We also see a growing sense of carelessness in which the standard operating procedures were not complied as strictly as before,” he said.

He also cited the recent case of a healthcare personnel from the Sungai cluster in Kedah, who unwittingly infected seven family members, as an example of complacency and carelessness.

On another note, Dr Noor Hisham said individuals returning from India recorded the highest Covid-19 positive cases during the mandatory quarantine period.

He said so far, 29,330 travellers were placed at quarantine stations with 237 positive cases detected.

“Most cases are from India (42 cases), followed by the Philippines (27 cases) and Indonesia (26 cases).

“The government has taken proactive steps by tightening Malaysia’s border controls for high-risk countries from Monday,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Malaysian Immigration Department has tightened the admission for 23 countries subject to Long-Termed Visit Pass Holders for citizens from countries that recorded a cumulative Covid-19 positive case in excess of 150,000 cases.

He added that the action is one of the measures taken to tighten and enhance border control. The Ministry of Health will continue to assess risk based on the current situation of the pandemic worldwide.

“The latest list of countries that have been restricted entry will be announced by the government from time to time,” he said.

Separately, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said 24,961 individuals have returned from abroad through international check points from July 24 to Sept 7.

“Of that number, 9,887 individuals are undergoing mandatory quarantine, while 66 individuals are taken to the hospital for treatment.

“About 15,008 individuals have been discharged and allowed to return to their homes,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Ismail Sabri also said police had arrested 72 individuals for breaching the Recovery Movement Control Order on Monday.

Under Ops Benteng, Ismail Sabri said the authorities had conducted 79 highway roadblocks nationwide on Monday.

They arrested 25 undocumented migrants, including one man who was believed to be a human trafficking syndicate.