KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s northern states, which were previously model cases in terms of relatively low Covid-19 infections, have been hit by a relentless wave of new cases and new clusters.
Kedah is the worst-hit state, with 30 active cases up to noon yesterday.
The Sivagangga cluster, which erupted in Napoh, Kedah, has spread to neighbouring Penang and Perlis.
The cluster, involving three generations, is the nation’s most active cluster with 45 cases.
Up to noon yesterday, 4,636 people linked to the cluster had been screened.
Thirty-one people tested positive in Kedah, 11 in Perlis and three in Penang.
These numbers are likely to increase as the Health Ministry continues active case detection for the Sivagangga cluster and two new clusters — Kurau and Meranti — reported yesterday.
The Kurau cluster originated in Perak and the Meranti cluster in Putrajaya.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Kurau cluster index case (Case 9,050) was reported on Friday in Perak, while its second case (Case 9,082) was detected in Penang.
“The whole family in Penang has been screened.
“On Aug 9 (yesterday), the patient tested positive, while five family members tested negative.
“To date, 115 close contacts have been screened and 106 are negative and nine awaiting results.
“Active case detection and close contact screening are ongoing.”
On the Meranti cluster, he said it was detected when Case 9,083, a health officer, tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.
He said the patient was in contact with Case 8,968, who tested positive in a pre-surgery screening, reported on July 31.
“Case 8,968 had received treatment at a health facility where Case 9,083 was on duty.”
The source of the infection was being investigated, he said.
The three northern states were among the earliest to record zero new Covid-19 cases.
Perlis was the first state to record zero new Covid-19 cases, with only 18 cases previously, and it had been a green zone for three months since April 22.
Its status changed to yellow on July 29 after an undocumented immigrant tested positive and cases spiked after the spread of the Sivagangga cluster. Perlis has 12 active cases.
Kedah was declared a green zone on April 30 after recording 95 cases during the first wave of the outbreak.
Perak was declared a green zone on April 30 with 253 cases. Since then, 13 more cases have been reported in the state, with four active cases.
Penang lost its green zone status on Aug 7 after being free of Covid-19 for 91 days.
In George Town, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow stressed the importance of contact tracing following the detection of three new Covid-19 cases in the state.
He said more than 100 people who came in contact with the three cases had been contacted and tested for the virus, with the majority testing negative.
“We are waiting for a few more results.
“What is important is contact tracing so that testing and isolation can be done.
“If necessary, those affected should be treated immediately,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry yesterday recorded 13 new Covid-19 cases, four of which were transmitted locally.
Three of the four local cases were reported in Penang and one in Putrajaya.
Dr Noor Hisham said two out of three cases in Penang were linked to the Sivagangga cluster.
Nine cases were imported, involving five Malaysians and four foreigners.
He said the imported cases were from China (two in Kuala Lumpur), India (two in Kuala Lumpur), Japan (one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Selangor), Ireland (one in Kuala Lumpur), Indonesia (one in Kuala Lumpur) and Yemen (one in Sarawak).
Up to noon yesterday, the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country stood at 9,083, with 174 active cases.
Dr Noor Hisham said nine more patients had been discharged from hospitals and no new fatalities were recorded.