Health Ministry suggests funeral gatherings be limited to 20 after emergence of new Covid-19 clusters

PUTRAJAYA: After the emergence of several Covid-19 clusters caused by funerals, the Health Ministry has suggested that such gatherings be limited to a maximum of 20 people.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this is to prevent clusters such as the Pasai cluster in Sarawak and last year’s Tawar cluster in Kedah from happening again.

“We realise that gatherings such as funerals or weddings have the potential to spread Covid-19 infection, if someone who is positive is in attendance.

“This is what we have seen with the two big clusters of Pasai and Tawar.

“We understand that funerals are a sensitive issue, due to cultural and emotional reasons.

“What is more important is we should limit funeral gatherings to 20 people. Such gatherings also need approval from the police, ” said Dr Noor Hisham at the ministry’s Covid-19 press conference here on Thursday (Jan 21).

He said it is very important for attendees of such gatherings to comply with Covid-19 guidelines at all times.

“Ensure physical distancing of at least one metre, wear face masks and frequently wash hands.

“We hope the attendees comply with the Covid-19 rules and regulations that the Health Ministry have put in place all these while.

“That is the advice we can give, ” said Dr Noor Hisham.

The Pasai cluster is currently Sarawak’s biggest ever cluster, with 981 confirmed infections and one death to date.

The cluster originated from a 32-year-old woman who travelled from Johor on Dec 29 to attend her father’s funeral ceremony in the Sibu division.

The Tawar cluster, which originated in Kedah, is linked to a funeral on July 31.

There were 92 cases and three deaths under the cluster, with infections spreading in Kedah and Penang.

On Jan 20, the Health Ministry also announced the emergence of the Kampung Balibata cluster, which is linked to a funeral in a village in Beaufort, Sabah.

Its index case is a 47-year-old man who had travelled to Sabah from Selangor to attend the funeral.

So far, 39 people under the cluster have tested positive.

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