KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — A federal minister has tested positive for coronavirus, after he attended a special National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Covid-19 together with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, and other ministers.
Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, who returned to Kuala Lumpur on September 24 from Sabah, issued a short statement confirming that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently undergoing treatment. He previously visited Sandakan from September 20 to 21.
“I urge everyone who attended events which I had attended from September 24 to October 4 to get screened for Covid-19 at any public health clinic immediately,” Zulkifli posted on Facebook today.
The NSC meeting chaired by Muhyiddin at Bangunan Perdana Putra in Putrajaya, held in the morning of October 3, was also attended by Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Senior Works Minister Fadillah Yusof, Senior Education Minister Radzi Jidin, as well as Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador, according to Bernama.
Zulkifli, as well as Muhyiddin, were pictured not wearing a face mask at the NSC meeting. A video on Muhyiddin’s Facebook page of the meeting showed the prime minister wearing a face mask as he entered the room, before taking it off as he sat down.
The religious affairs minister’s Covid-19 diagnosis comes amid a record-breaking surge of Covid-19 cases nationwide over the past few days. MOH reported another record high of 432 Covid-19 cases today, following 293 cases reported yesterday, 317 cases last Saturday, and 287 cases on October 2.
Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement today that an individual, whom he did not name, attended a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Department on October 3 and was confirmed on October 5 to have contracted Covid-19. At that time, the individual did not show symptoms.
“Contact tracing is being conducted, including symptomatic screening and swab taking to detect Covid-19 infection. All identified close contacts have been given a home surveillance order for 14 days from the date of exposure to the contact,” said the Health director-general.
“In line with that, everyone who attended the meeting as mentioned have undergone health screenings today and samples have been taken for Covid-19 testing. Those who were identified as close contacts during the meeting were given 14-day HSO from October 3, 2020, and quarantine bands.
“Other attendees of the meeting, who are not close contacts, are required to conduct self-health monitoring at home every day for 14 days with the home assessment tool on the MySejahtera app. They are advised to seek immediate treatment at the nearest health facility if they experience symptoms during the monitoring period.”
MOH defines a “close contact” to a confirmed Covid-19 case as “working together in close proximity or sharing the same classroom environment with a Covid-19 patient”, among other categories.
According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a “close contact” is defined as “any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated”.
A Melaka assemblyman, a Kedah state executive councillor, and a deputy minister have previously contracted Covid-19 after coming back from the Sabah state election campaign.
Update on October 6, 2020: The Defence Ministry’s corporate communications unit clarified that Chief of Defence Force General Affendi Buang did not attend the October 3 NSC meeting at Putrajaya, and hence, is not under self-quarantine. CodeBlue has amended its report accordingly.