New Covid-19 strain may be behind two Kedah clusters, says health DG

Tests on Covid-19 cases from two Kedah clusters show the virus shared the same source, says the health ministry.

PUTRAJAYA: The health ministry this evening said that two clusters in Kedah could be caused by the D614G mutation, a strain said to be 10 times more infectious.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was based on genome sequencing done on samples from the Tawar and PUI (persons under investigation) Sivagangga clusters.

He said seven samples from these two clusters were from the same clade.

“This suggests a huge possibility that the Tawar and PUI Sivagangga clusters were from the same source. However, it is still being investigated,” he told reporters.

Noor Hisham said the ministry decided on conducting a virology test following the spike in cases in the Tawar cluster.

He said if there was indeed a mutation, it meant infectivity was high.

“In terms of an action plan, we need to step up our public health intervention.

“In the past 16 days, we did not record any new cases from the PUI Sivagangga cluster, because of our rapid public health action. Now we need to focus on the Tawar cluster,” he said.

Earlier this month, Noor Hisham said the new strain, discovered by scientists in July, had been identified in three patients in Malaysia.

He said the strain would be able to infect other people 10 times more easily.

He also said vaccines being developed may be ineffective against this mutation.

Noor Hisham said none of the 21 children from the Tawar cluster had been admitted to the intensive care unit.

A total of 73 people from the cluster tested positive.

“We hope they are able to recover from the infection,” he said when asked if the children’s immune system would be severely impacted by the virus.