KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Health authorities today announced a new Covid-19 cluster in Kunak, Sabah, infecting nine Malaysians, as Sabah’s infection rate fell to 1.70 from a high of 3.72 amid a heated state election.
An R0 (pronounced R-naught) value of 1.72 means that each infected person leads to another 1.70 cases on average. Sabah recorded an R0 of 1.70 on September 13, slightly higher than the nationwide and Kedah R0 of 1.58 on the same day.
Sabah and Kedah previously recorded an R0 of 3.72 and 2.63 respectively on September 8, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The Covid-19 infection rate depends on the number of cases identified through testing. MOH has been increasing testing in Sabah and Kedah amid fresh outbreaks, while retaining strict criteria for testing in other states in accordance with its targeted testing approach.
An R0, called the basic reproduction number, greater than one means that the virus will likely keep spreading. An R0 value below one indicates that the outbreak is likely dying out, while a value above two shows that the infection rate is doubling in the community.
According to a graphic on the R0 value for Covid-19 from September 8 to September 13, Sabah’s R0 fell from 3.72 on September 8 to 1.98 on September 10, before shooting up to 3.16 on September 11, and falling to 1.70 on September 13.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Pulau cluster in Kunak, Sabah, was discovered when the index case (Patient 9,940), a 68-year-old Malaysian woman, was found unconscious at home. She was later taken to Kunak Hospital and referred to Tawau Hospital for heart attack, stroke, and liver disease.
She tested positive for Covid-19 on September 13 and is currently in the intensive care unit (ICU) on ventilator support. Eight of her family members also tested positive for coronavirus, comprising nine total positive cases so far in the Pulau cluster.
“The source of infection is still under investigation and infection control activities for this cluster are ongoing in the field,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
MOH also reported four new Covid-19 cases in Lahad Datu in the Benteng LD cluster, leading to a total of 424 positive cases in the cluster. A total of 6,610 people have been screened in this cluster in Lahad Datu (1,531 individuals screened) and Tawau (5,079 people screened).
The 424 total cases in the Benteng LD cluster — which started at the Lahad Datu district police headquarters and spread to Tawau prison — comprise 331 cases in Tawau and 93 in Lahad Datu. A total of 2,707 people screened in this cluster across both districts are still awaiting their test results.
The majority of the 424 cases in the Benteng LD cluster come from 395 prisoners and detainees; followed by 10 staff in the Lahad Datu district police headquarters and Tawau prison; nine family members of staff, prisoners, and detainees; and 10 social contacts.
About 44 per cent of the 424 coronavirus cases, or 186 people, are Malaysian, while the remaining 238 patients are foreigners from the Philippines (154 cases) and Indonesia (84 cases).
MOH reported 23 new Covid-19 cases nationwide today, comprising 10 imported infections and 13 local transmissions (all in Sabah). The community cases comprised eight new cases from the Pulau cluster in Kunak, four from the Benteng LD cluster, and one unlinked case of a screening referral from Semporna Hospital to Tawau Hospital.
Health authorities have also expanded screening in two districts in Kedah under an administrative enhanced Movement Control Order — Kota Setar and three zones in Amanjaya — targeting 15,000 individuals for screening in Kota Setar. In Amanjaya, 13,591 residents have been screened up to September 15, revealing 16 positive Covid-19 cases among Malaysians.
Thirteen of the 16 cases were found in a second screening in Melur Zone, leading to an extension of the lockdown there until September 27.
Total active Covid-19 cases in Malaysia have risen to 632. Fourteen are in ICU, including four on ventilator support. No new coronavirus-related fatalities were reported today, with the Covid-19 death toll remaining at 128.