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Education clusters on the rise, says health DG

Another 92 clusters were reported in the latest epidemiology week.

2 minute read
Factors behind the recent increase in education clusters include the movement of students and close interation in dormitories.
Factors behind the recent increase in education clusters include the movement of students and close interation in dormitories.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 education clusters of late with 92 reported in the latest epidemiology week (ME) 7/2022, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said.

In the week before (ME6), 61 education clusters were recorded, he added.

He said the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) had recorded 367 education clusters from Jan 1 to Feb 19, of which 346 are still active while 21 have ended.

In a statement today, he said there had been a downward trend in ME5 due to the Chinese New Year holidays, but that the numbers went up again in ME6 and ME7 in proportion with the rise in Covid-19 cases nationwide.

Noor Hisham said the states with the highest number of education clusters were Kelantan (54), followed by Selangor (49) Pahang (38), Kuala Lumpur (37) and Sabah (34).

“Investigations found that 328 clusters, or 89.4%, had students as index cases while 31 cases (8.5%) involved teachers or lecturers.

“In addition, six clusters (1.6%) involved index cases from support staff and two (0.6%) involved family members,” he said.

The majority of cases reported were in the mild or asymptomatic categories, he added.

He said 12,579 infections (76.54%) were Category two cases, 3,850 cases (23.4%) Category One and 35 cases (0.2%) in Category Three and Four. He said all of them had received treatment and were in stable condition.

“All 257 schools involved are from various agencies, namely the education ministry, Majlis Amanah Rakyat, Maahad Tahfiz and others,” he said.

Noor Hisham said as of Feb 19, a total of 232 clusters involving secondary schools and 25 primary school clusters were still active.

“Of those, 107 schools have been temporarily closed for cleaning and turned into quarantine areas while 150 schools only required the shutting down of classes.

“Investigations found that the main cause of Covid-19 infection and transmission was due to several factors. They include non-compliance with SOPs, the free movement of students, close interaction in dormitories and several other factors.”

Noor Hisham proposed improvements such as scheduled Covid-19 screenings, the quick identification of students with symptoms, as well as ensuring optimum ventilation in all areas.

Meanwhile, the National CPRC reported that from Jan 25, 2020 to Feb 19, 2022, some 6,704 Covid-19 clusters were detected. Of these, 6,212 have ended while 492 are still active.

The highest number of clusters was recorded in the workplace (58.71%), followed by community (20.54%), detention centres (7.63%) and education (6.83%).