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Health ministry recommends Covid screening at schools after rise in education clusters

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says the current increase in cases and clusters follows the reopening of schools in mid-March.

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A pupil looks back during assembly time at SK Taman Tasik in Ampang on March 20.
A pupil looks back during assembly time at SK Taman Tasik in Ampang on March 20.

The health ministry has recommended that the education sector conduct screening on students, teachers and staff after 11 of the 18 Covid-19 clusters reported in the seventh epidemiological week 2023 (ME 13/2023) from March 26 to April 1 were education clusters.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of the total, six clusters involved educational institutions under the education ministry: three colleges, a religious school, a boarding school and a secondary school.

He said the five other clusters involved non-ministry schools and colleges and a childcare centre.

"The current increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and clusters followed the reopening of the school session in mid-March 2023. 

"The increase in cases is also due to active community movements during the last school holiday season," he said.

As such, he said the education sector was advised to perform screening on symptomatic students, teachers and staff before their entry into schools or institutions and conduct RTK-Ag tests on students, teachers and staff in accordance with the Covid-19 testing strategy.

He said parents also need to monitor their children's health and keep them school if they have symptoms.

Risk assessments on the spread of Covid-19 at institutions must also be conducted from time to time so that preventive measures can be taken immediately, he said.

In his statement, Noor Hisham reminded district health officials that positive cases reported by schools or educational institutions must be investigated and a risk assessment carried out to identify potential transmission risks, in addition to cleaning, disinfecting and contact tracing.

He also advised the public to continue practising TRIIS (trace, report, isolate, inform, and seek) to control the spread of Covid-19.

On the development of Covid-19 cases, Noor Hisham said the number of patient admissions to health facilities per 100,000 residents increased by 24.1% in ME 13/2023 compared to ME 12/2023, bringing the cumulative number of new cases to 5,052,337 and the number of recoveries to 5,004,546.