Health Ministry: Highly-infectious Covid-19 strain found in Benteng LD cluster

  • Nation
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The highly-infectious D614G Covid-19 strain has been found in the Benteng LD (Lahad Datu) cluster, according to lab studies by the Health Ministry.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the virus found in this cluster was similar to that detected in Kedah, with the same mutation.

"The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) has conducted genome sequencing tests on 32 Covid-19 viruses isolated and cultured from the Benteng LD cluster (23 viruses), PUI Sivagangga cluster (four), Tawar cluster (three), Sungai cluster (one) and the Bukit Tiram cluster (one).

"As suspected, the D614G mutation is found in all 32 of the viruses. Although all 23 viruses from the Benteng LD are from the D614G mutation and are similar to the ones found in Kedah, they are not related.

"However, the community needs to be more wary and careful. This is because the D614G mutation is easily spread and has higher susceptibility in infecting other individuals," said Dr Noor Hisham, in a Facebook post on Friday (Sept 25).

The D614G strain was first detected in the PUI Sivagangga cluster, which had infected individuals in the northern states, particularly Kedah.

Subsequent studies by the Ministry found that the same genetic mutation was also prevalent in the Ulu Tiram, Tawar and Sungai clusters.

The Benteng LD cluster, which is centred in the Lahad Datu and Tawau districts, is currently the most active and largest cluster with 730 cases as of noon on Thursday (Sept 24).

Dr Noor Hisham reminded members of the public to always adhere to the Health Ministry's standard operating procedures, especially on practising physical distancing, self-hygiene and the wearing of face masks.

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