A total of 107 Covid-19 clusters in the education sector were recorded from Jan 1 to 25, involving 4,633 cases.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the significant increase was recorded after the opening of the 2022 schooling session.
He said of 107 education clusters, institutions from the education ministry contributed the highest number, namely 56 clusters (52.3%) followed by other educational institutions (24.3%), higher education (20.6%), and private educational institutions registered with the ministry (2.8%).
“In the first epidemiology week (EW) in 2022, only three education clusters were recorded, but the increase in clusters was seen at the beginning of the school session, namely the second EW, when 15 clusters were recorded, and this was followed by an increase of 313% in the third EW.
“In the fourth EW, until Jan 25, 2022, another 26 education clusters were reported,” he said in a statement.
Noor Hisham said out of the 4,633 cases in the education cluster, 4,092 cases (88.3%) were fully vaccinated, and 112 cases (2.4%) had received a booster dose.
He said 99.7% of the cases (4,621 cases) reported only suffered from mild symptoms (Categories One and Two), while only 0.2% (12 cases) were in Categories Three and Four, with all of them now in stable condition at healthcare facilities.
“Based on investigations by the district health offices (PKD) on the cases and clusters reported, the infections were due to non-compliance with SOPs by educational institution staff while at school, as well as after schooling hours, especially for those living in hostels.
“Other causes include individuals with symptoms still attending classes and being detected late; pupils quarantined at schools not complying with quarantine instructions and procedures; crowded areas not being regularly cleaned and disinfected; and poor ventilation systems in classrooms and dormitories,” he said.
Noor Hisham said a special meeting was held on Jan 22 involving the health and education ministries, state health departments, the National Public Health Laboratory, the higher education ministry, Department of National Unity and National Integration and Department of Islamic Development Malaysia.
Among the proposed improvements to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 among students and educators is to fully comply with the Guidelines for School Management and Operation 3.0 issued by the education ministry.
In addition, schools need to conduct risk assessments immediately so that students infected with Covid-19 can be isolated and immediate action can be taken on close contacts, while students need to immediately report to a teacher, warden or student representative, in the event they suffer from any mild symptoms.