Sivagangga Covid-19 cluster spreads out of Kedah in Malaysia

Penang recorded its first case after a person tested positive upon returning home on July 30. PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Sivagangga cluster has spread out of Kedah to neighbouring Perlis and Penang, infecting 11 people in those states.

Perlis reported 10 cases linked to the cluster while Penang broke its green state streak after recording its first active case in months. All of the 10 new cases in Perlis belonged to the same family.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Friday (Aug 7) there have been 25 new infections linked to the Sivagangga cluster in Napoh, Kedah yesterday.

One of them was reported in Kedah.

The cluster was first reported on July 28 and was started by an index patient - a restaurant owner who returned from India - who did not follow home quarantine rules.

"The 10 new cases reported in Perlis and another case previously reported in the state on Aug 4, are all from the same family.

"This means all 11 cases in Perlis stemmed from the PUI (Persons Under Investigation) Sivagangga cluster. Investigations found that one of the family members was a loyal customer of the restaurant belonging to the Sivagangga cluster index case," he said in a statement.

He said all 10 new cases were asymptomatic and the patients were being treated at Hospital Tuanku Fauziah in Perlis.

Green state Penang recorded its first case after a person tested positive upon returning home on July 30.

"The person's hometown was in an area that is now under the targeted enhanced movement control order," said Dr Noor Hisham, adding that the new case in Kedah was a close contact to a previously reported case on Thursday.

The government on Aug 3 placed 4 sub-districts in Kedah under the "targeted enhanced movement control order (MCO)" following the growing number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Sivagangga cluster.

Five schools in these areas were closed. Teachers in the affected areas are not allowed to resume duties at the schools while those living outside the areas are not allowed to enter the schools there.

Only workers working in the essential services are allowed to go to work.

A total of 1,884 close contacts were identified and will be tested in Perlis and Penang, following the new positive cases in these states, said Dr Noor Hisham.

So far 31 cases have been detected from the Sivagangga cluster.

As of Thursday noon, a total of 3,246 people had been screened from this cluster, said Dr Noor Hisham.

Out of this, 43 tested positive for Covid-19, 2,320 were negative and another 883 were still awaiting their results.

On Thursday, Dr Noor Hisham said that the Sivagangga cluster might be from a super-spreader strain of Covid-19 as the cluster had a faster rate of transmission compared with the nine other clusters in other states.

Separately, Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man said in a press conference yesterday that the state government might consider putting two villages under the targeted enhanced movement control order following the 10 new cases.

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