Malaysia reports two COVID-19 cases imported from Brunei

Izah Azahari

Malaysia reported two more COVID-19 cases imported from Brunei Darussalam on June 7.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has confirmed that investigations into both cases are underway, and that contacts related to the cases have been identified.

All contacts of the cases were instructed to undergo the SARS-CoV-2 laboratory test and undergo 14 days of quarantine.

At present, 113 individuals are undergoing quarantine.

On whether the public should be worried since the transmission for both cases came from the Sultanate, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said that concern does exist. “The two patients are Malaysians, one of whom has been in Brunei since February, to carry out his three-month attachment and has recently returned. The other patient is an officer who served in the Sultanate for a long time and returned to Malaysia after finishing his service here,” he said.

“When they returned to Malaysia, it was found that their swab tests came back positive for COVID-19. The method of collection for the test kits used there is exactly the same as ours in Brunei, which is using PCR, which is very sensitive in detecting the virus.

“However, the test cannot detect as to whether the virus is alive or dead. What has been discovered from the communication with Malaysia is that it is possibly an old infection from a month ago or so, as the CT ratio is quite high, and the risk of them getting it here is still there.

“That is why we are always cautious. Even though we have gone more than a month without any cases, the Ministry of Health is still reminding the public of their responsibility, especially in social distancing and that non-essential gatherings are prohibited.”

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also advised members of the public, especially those grouped as high-risk, to only go out when necessary and to wear a mask when doing so.

“As the information was only released the previous night, the initial investigation has not shown that there are any links to previously treated patients,” he said.

“With investigations still being carried out, the two cases are not grouped into the symptomatic cases, as they might not have had any symptoms prior to this if they were
infected here.

“With the two new cases and two other previous ones making up four imported cases in total from Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia, the Ministry of Health is considering carrying out swab tests on individuals seeking to cross the border.

“The need for this is currently being looked into and should to be discussed with other agencies, to determine whether the government would want to carry it out, and standard of procedure (SOP) would be.”

On whether there was a chance of some sort of community transmission in the country, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “Screening has been carried out, as the Ministry of Health believes that there must be some cases that were overlooked before the borders were closed.

“As the infection began between late December to early January, and our borders were only closed in early March, the possibility is there. That is why the Ministry of Health has recently begun carrying out antibody or serology tests.

“Hopefully, in the near future we’ll also do a few more before we de-escalate further. The goal is to make sure that if there is a transmission, it will be limited, and there’s no super-spreader.”