PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia was nine days too late in acting on the Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling tabligh congregation, which accounts for close to 40% of the country’s 5,851 Covid-19 infections.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry had only known about the gathering on March 9 when a participant from Brunei tested positive for the virus.
“I was only informed by my Brunei counterpart about the gathering on the night of March 9, so we acted nine days too late.
"The participants by then had already returned to their hometowns, villages and subdistricts, ” he said at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 press conference here on Tuesday (April 28).
Dr Hisham said this after he was asked to comment on Thailand’s Covid-19 figures, which had shown consecutive single digits in its daily new cases.
“It's true that Thailand has a bigger population than Malaysia, but fewer cases than us.
“But they did not have a large tabligh gathering of 16,000 people in their country.
“I'm sure if we did not have this gathering, our cases would be less than Thailand’s. The tabligh gathering is responsible for close to 40% of our total cases, ” said Dr Noor Hisham.
On Tuesday, Thailand recorded seven new Covid-19 cases - the second day of single digits in its cases - bringing the country’s cumulative tally to 2,938.
The Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling tabligh gathering was held from Feb 28 to March 1.
A total of 2,155 people related to the Sri Petaling tabligh cluster have tested positive for Covid-19.
So far, the ministry has tested 32,122 individuals under the cluster.
Despite the challenges involved, Dr Hisham said the ministry had so far managed to keep the spread of the virus under control.
He added that the country was now moving towards recovery and was hoping to record single digits by the middle of May.
“We can achieve single digits but this requires every single Malaysian embracing the new norms.
“If there is no necessity to go out, stay at home.
"That is the safest thing you can do, and you will prevent the transmission of the virus from one person to another, ” he said.