PETALING JAYA: Eleven students and one teacher from a secondary school in Setiu, Terengganu, have tested positive for Covid-19.
State health department director Dr Nor Azimi Yunus said the students and teacher, from SM Imtiaz in Saujana, Setiu, were confirmed to have contracted the virus after a targeted screening.
“The screening was done to detect as many positive cases as possible in this school. They will be isolated and given treatment.
“Only through this can the chain of transmission be broken swiftly, ” she said in a Facebook post on Thursday (April 29).
According to Sinar Harian, the school will be closed for 14 days until May 11 to allow sanitisation work and contact tracing.
Dr Nor Azimi also said it was undeniable that Covid-19 cases in schools and other educational institutions can come from the community.
“If the community transmission is high, the risk of infection spreading in schools is high.
“The spread from the community to the schools will happen unless schools are closed, ” she added.
She said that generally, it is difficult to follow standard operating procedures (SOP) in schools, especially primary schools.
“The students are still young and they run here and there. They roughhouse and embrace their friends.
“Full adherence to SOPs in dormitories is also challenging, especially in cramped spaces.
“Students also have very close positioning in boarding houses. Eating from the same plate and sleeping on the same bed is a normal occurrence, ” she said.
She added that preventive measures can still be implemented in schools, however.
The main priority is to ensure that teachers, students, and support staff who display Covid-19 symptoms are kept from the premises, she said.
This is also applicable if they are close contacts with positive cases as well and should undergo testing, she added.
“We need to ensure there is SOP adherence when organising programmes involving many students. Physical distancing and mask-wearing must be practised during the programmes.
“Everyone must wear a mask while in school. If teachers are not comfortable wearing masks when teaching because it doesn’t look nice, they can still wear face shields.
“This would prevent saliva from making contact with students or other surfaces in the room, ” she said.
She added that strict SOPs must also be adhered to in the teachers' room or lounge, and in common areas such as toilets and libraries.
“It would also be good to empower the class monitor or dormitory leader to report students who have symptoms so that isolation can be done immediately, ” she said.