Dr Noor Hisham: Tawar, Sivagangga clusters likely linked as both carry D614G mutation

PUTRAJAYA: The Tawar and Sivagangga clusters are likely to be linked, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said this follows after the Health Ministry found matches between the samples taken from both clusters.

He said research conducted by the ministry’s Institute for Medical Research (IMR) found that samples from the Tawar cluster also have the D614G mutation - said to be an aggressive coronavirus strain.

“From the genomic sequencing that we have conducted, we found that the mutation in Tawar and PUI (persons under investigation) Sivangangga clusters are the same.

“So we need to investigate which patient (from the Tawar cluster) has links to the Sivagangga group.

“The virus is the same and the mutation is the same. This is from the 14 samples that we have researched, ” said Dr Noor Hisham at the ministry’s press conference Thursday (Aug 27).

Dr Noor Hisham said with the knowledge that the Tawar cluster also has the D164G mutation, the ministry will have to step up its public health intervention action plans to prevent the cluster from having more infections.

“We know that if there’s the D164G mutation, that means the infectivity is high. Nonetheless, action plans and public health intervention remain the same, we have to step up.

“From our rapid public health activities with the PUI Sivangganga cluster, you can see it has been 16 days that there have been no cases.

“Now we need to focus on the Tawar cluster, ” said Dr Noor Hisham.

With the enhanced movement control order (MCO) imposed in the Amanjaya locality in Kedah, Dr Noor Hisham said they are hoping the cluster can be contained in that area.

“The cluster is not confined to a locality so we need to aim at targeted groups. But here, we found an area where we can impose an enhanced MCO so hope we can contain it there, ” he said.

The Tawar cluster has so far confirmed 73 cases. With 10 recoveries, the cluster has the biggest number of active cases at 63.

The cluster has spanned three generations with positive cases in Kedah and Penang with five patients in intensive care units.

The Tawar cluster’s index case (patient 9,113) is a 53-year-old who had tested positive for the virus on Aug 12.

The man had a history of attending a funeral gathering on July 31 and Aug 1 which was attended by family members.

The PUI Sivagangga cluster, also centred in the northern states, has 45 positive cases.

Currently, seven cases are still active.

Prior to this, IMR detected the D614G mutation in the samples of the PUI Sivagangga cluster and the Ulu Tiram cluster in Johor.

Dr Noor Hisham previously said the mutation is 10 times likely to infect other individuals.

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