Covid-19: 50 more cases linked to Benteng Lahad Datu cluster, all prisoners, says Health DG

PUTRAJAYA: Fifty more Covid-19 cases linked to the Benteng Lahad Datu (LD) cluster in Sabah were detected in a 24-hour span and all new patients are prisoners, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general said the discovery of new cases followed the ministry’s active case detection work in the districts of Lahad Datu and Tawau, where 1,404 individuals have been screened for Covid-19.

“Under this cluster, the ministry has screened 631 prison inmates, 98 prison staff, 157 family members of staff and inmates, 78 police officers and 440 government officers, ” said Dr Noor Hisham in a statement on Monday (Sept 7).

The cluster originated from two undocumented migrants who were under detention at the Lahad Datu police headquarters’ lock-up.

The two Philippines nationals were screened for Covid-19 and their results on Aug 31 showed they tested positive for the virus.

Screening of close contacts found five other positive cases among detainees at the lock-up.

The cluster was then found to have spread to the Tawau prison some 150km away after several inmates with travel history to the Lahad Datu police headquarters also testedpositive for Covid-19.

So far, the cluster has 66 confirmed cases, with 50 of them detected in Lahad Datu and 16 from Tawau.

The only cases that are not among prisoners is a 45-year-old prison officer in Tawau and his one-year-old nephew.

Dr Noor Hisham said the cramped and congested space in the lock-ups contributed to the spread of Covid-19 in this cluster.

“It is found that physical distancing is difficult to practise. This is the main cause of the Covid-19 transmission among the detainees. Therefore, it is important for the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be adhered to at all times, regardless of location, ” he said.

The 50 cases from the Benteng Lahad Datu cluster is part of the 62 new Covid-19 cases in the country on Monday (Sept 7).

This is the highest spike of cases in a single-day throughout the recovery movement control order period.

The last time Malaysia recorded more cases was on June 4 with 277 cases - mainly linked to the Immigration detention depot clusters.

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