KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 – Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing has questioned the spread of Omicron in his constituency, after an infected student was released from a quarantine hotel before his test results were out.
Tiong said the 19-year-old male student – who returned from the United Kingdom, swabbed on December 14, and was confirmed to have Omicron – met up with other people to play basketball after he was released from quarantine early.
“Although all the identified people who came into contact with the student from the UK had been placed in isolation, the authorities remain unable to accurately determine how many more people had been contacted by them.
“How many more people had been infected without knowing it?” Tiong said on Facebook yesterday, as he urged all those who were in contact with the Covid-19 patient to get tested.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said later in a press conference that the Omicron case breached quarantine by going out on December 17 before the end of his home surveillance order on December 19. Khairy added that eight close contacts of the infected student in Bintulu have tested negative for Covid-19 on RT-PCR tests so far.
“I’ll ask the Pejabat Kesihatan Bahagian Bintulu to continue to investigate other contacts that he may have had to do contact tracing and also to make sure that they do their tests,” Khairy said, adding that MOH is investigating how the student broke quarantine.
Tiong, who is PDP president, questioned how the quarantine procedure was broken in the Omicron case of the student in Bintulu.
“Anyone who is quarantined must not be allowed to leave without obtaining the relevant release order. RELA personnel must take their duties seriously in this matter because repeating this mistake can cause far reaching effects. The KKM (Ministry of Health) must thoroughly review this negligence and stop more mistakes from happening,” he said.
“Potential contacts and patients without symptoms are the biggest challenges we face. Therefore, from now onwards, all people placed in quarantine, especially those returning from abroad must not be issued a release order before the test results are released, even if they exceed the quarantine period.”
Besides the imported case from the UK, Bintulu has another confirmed imported Omicron infection in a man who returned from Nigeria, according to a statement by the Sarawak state government on December 24.
There are also two confirmed Omicron cases in the state capital of Kuching, comprising an imported infection from the UK and a suspected locally transmitted case without travel history.
Tiong said he has also asked the Ministry of Health to monitor all passengers in the two Bintulu flights with the Omicron cases.
“Our greatest concern are those infected without any symptoms. Once it is spread to the general population, there is no controlling those cases.”
Besides the potential spread of Omicron in Bintulu, the highly contagious variant may also have spread in the peninsula as most of the 30 Umrah pilgrims infected with Omicron, who returned from Saudi Arabia about two weeks ago, had broken home quarantine protocols by interacting with family members and received visitors.
Update: This story was updated in the fifth and six paragraphs to include Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s remarks on the case.