KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 — Covid-19 infections among children below 12 years old increased nearly threefold in less than four months this year compared to the whole of 2020.
Last year, a total of 8,369 Covid-19 cases were identified among children below 12, compared to a total of 23,779 positive cases reported in the same age group between January 1 and April 25 this year.
“This data shows how easily the virus can be transmitted in schools,” Dr Adham said in a Covid-19 press conference today.
The country reported a total of 12 Covid-19 clusters in the education sector in the 15th epidemiological week of April 11 to 17. The following week, from April 18 to 24, Covid-19 clusters originating from education institutions climbed to 22, a whopping increase of 83 per cent.
According to data provided by the health minister, MOH reported 22 workplace clusters in the 16th epidemiological week from April 18 to 24, the highest together with the 22 education clusters. Twenty community clusters were reported that week, as well as three clusters from religious activities and one from a detention centre.
Altogether, 68 new coronavirus clusters were detected in the past week, a 6.3 per cent increase from 64 clusters found in the 15th epidemiological week of April 11 to 17. New Covid-19 cases related to clusters increased from 4,130 infections that week to 4,209 cases in the week of April 18 to 24.
“The clusters in the education sector are not only from Ministry of Education facilities. It includes the Higher Education Ministry and state departments which are handling tahfiz schools,” Dr Adham said.
“We have instructed all district health offices to carry out targeted testing.”
Dr Adham also pointed out that any student with confirmed Covid-19 or who possess symptoms will be excused from going to school. At the same time, parents who have contracted the coronavirus, have symptoms, or are under home quarantine are also not required to send their children to school.
“This includes the students whose family members are under Covid-19 surveillance. Their absence will not be considered as skipping schools,” said the minister.
“We have asked the relevant ministries to provide excuses to their staff from attending to education institutions if they have tested positive with Covid-19 or show symptoms.”
At the same time, Dr Adham also noted that the state health districts will carry out contact tracing measures for students in school hostels if they possess Covid-19 symptoms.
However, a large majority of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, meaning they can still transmit the virus before developing symptoms.