KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — UDA Holdings chairman Hisham Hamdan today confirmed that he is Patient 26 and linked to 26 infections so far in Malaysia’s second novel coronavirus cluster.
However, the official with the government-linked property company strongly denied that he was Patient Zero, or the first person to be infected with Covid-19 in the latest cluster, saying he “just happened to be” the first person who was tested from a string of meetings that he attended.
“The second wave of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are linked to me, that I think is clear.
“But being linked to me and having originated from me are two entirely different things,” he said in a statement this morning.
Hisham claimed that it was “not possible” for him to have gotten Covid-19 from his trip to Shanghai from January 13 to 17, which he noted was well before the Chinese city’s first reported coronavirus case on January 20.
“Up to that point (January 17), the only confirmed cases in China were from the city of Wuhan, which I never visited. There was no suspicion, at the time, for any concern with regards to visiting Shanghai,” he said.
Hisham said he returned to Malaysia last January 17, but only exhibited symptoms over a month later on February 27, pointing out that research currently shows a two-week incubation period for Covid-19.
“Furthermore, the earliest close contact patients linked to me are from a meeting on February 21, five weeks after I returned,” he added.
According to MOH, after traveling to Shanghai early this year, Patient 26, now confirmed to be Hisham, went to his office on February 27 and attended five other public activities on February 21, February 24, and February 27 — either public events or meetings. Twenty-six close contact cases have since tested positive for Covid-19, including second-generation patients, which means someone who was infected by a person who previously got it from another person.
“Unless new medical research tells us otherwise, it is important to keep the facts, as we know them now, clear — my visit to Shanghai is not linked to my positive confirmation.”Hisham Hamdan, chairman of UDA Holdings
Hisham said he requested for a Covid-19 test after exhibiting common Covid-19 symptoms such as a fever and a cough last February 27, but thought he had dengue fever. He sought treatment at Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) and also requested for a Covid-19 test that same day, and tested positive for the novel coronavirus the next day.
“After doing the test, I went home and stayed home,” said Hisham.
He was then asked to be admitted at Hospital Sungai Buloh, one of MOH’s government hospitals for Covid-19 isolation and treatment, which is where he penned today’s statement from.
Hisham said it was “unfortunate” that his driver at UDA and a paramedic from Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) who treated him caught Covid-19, likely referring to Patient 52 or 55, and Patient 34, respectively. But he said his family all tested negative, and so did 13 non-UDA board and management individuals from a February 24 meeting.
Sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad previously confirmed that one of its staff members had been diagnosed with Covid-19. Due to patient confidentiality, his identity was never revealed by Khazanah, Uda Holdings, or MOH, but he was widely speculated to be Hisham. Hisham is executive director, head, public markets at Khazanah.