KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malaysia today reported its first coronavirus fatality with the death of a pastor from Sarawak, officials confirmed.
The 60-year-old victim is a pastor from the Emmanuel Baptist Church Kuching. He passed away at Sarawak General Hospital at 11am today.
The Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee, in a statement, confirmed his death, adding that the Sarawak state health department is trying to determine the source of his infection.
Social media today was rife with rumours that the pastor had succumbed to Covid-19, indicating the possible severity of the spread in Malaysia, even as the country clamps down on public movement by imposing a ban on mass gatherings and travel.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba is expected to announce more on the death in his daily Covid-19 briefing at Putrajaya later today.
Meanwhile, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee announced that 11 new Covid-19 cases were reported in the state today.
Six are from Kuching, three from Limbang, and one each from Betong and Lawas. They are being treated at Sarawak General Hospital, Sibu Hospital, and Miri Hospital.
A total of 35 persons-under-investigations were also recorded by the state today, with 204 patients still awaiting test results. Earlier today, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said he had contracted the novel virus.
“Currently, 45 Covid-19 cases in Sarawak have been traced to four clusters, namely; Sri Petaling cluster, Kuching (church) cluster, Sarikei cluster, and one more cluster in Kuching, the source of which is yet to be identified,” said the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee.
The Sri Petaling mosque cluster refers to the group of Covid-19 cases emerging from a gathering of some 16,000 attendees at the Jhod Qudma’ & Ulama’ Malaysia 2020 (Ijtima’ Tabligh) event February 27 to March 1.
Linked cases have been reported in Brunei, Sarawak, Sabah, Cambodia, and Singapore.
On the other hand, the Sarikei cluster likely refers to the cases linked to Sarikei MP Andrew Wong Ling Biu, said to be Malaysia’s first lawmaker to have the coronavirus, who is in critical condition.
Dr Yii was in contact with the DAP leader, as well as national hammer thrower Jackie Wong Siew Cheer, who is Wong’s son. Both have Covid-19.
The number of coronavirus infections in the country now exceeds 500.
Update at 6:30pm
Dr Adham said the 60-year-old man, Patient 358, had a history of diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia (unhealthy levels of one or more kinds of fat in the blood)