14 new cases of COVID-19 in Malaysia, new cluster identified

KUALA LUMPUR (CAN) – Fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Malaysia yesterday bringing the total number of cases to 50. Most of these new cases are close contacts or linked to case 26, the Malaysian Health Ministry said in a statement.

Case 26 has also been identified as the source of a COVID-19 cluster, resulting in a total of 21 infections (case 30 to case 50).

The ministry previously said that case 26, a 52-year-old man, visited Shanghai in mid-January. He had a fever and sore throat on February 27 and received outpatient treatment at a private hospital on the same day. He later tested positive on February 29 and was warded at Sungai Buloh Hospital.

He has been identified as a director of UDA Holdings, a government-linked company, and a senior member in the leadership of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional.

The Health Ministry said one case in the cluster was 26’s aide while 15 others attended at least one activity together with case 26. The other five were close contacts of several individuals from these 16 cases.

Travellers and airport crew at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. PHOTO: AFP

Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a press conference yesterday stressed that despite the sudden increase in the outbreak, the ministry still had the situation under control.

Asked if the Health Ministry would consider case 26 a “super spreader” he said no.

“If you take a person in Korea, he infected thousands of people, then yes he is considered a super spreader. Here, only 16 confirmed patients (related to case 26), so I would say extraordinary compared to others,” he said.

Separately, Dr Noor Hisham also said that there was no need for people to panic over the current situation. “As I have said, the situation is under control. With early containment which is what we are doing now, we are able to detect close contacts who are both positive and negative quickly.

“If we move to late containment, we would need to change our approach,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham stressed that people should refrain from spreading news which may be false and cause unnecessary panic.

“Do not make viral materials that can cause panic among the people. If there are questions, the public is free to contact the ministry hotlines for verification,” he said.

He also advised that organisations with positive cases among members of their staff need not close their offices. “They just need to disinfect and sanitise the premises and continue practising the precautions advised by the ministry. No need to completely close,” he said.