Covid-19: Variants of concern suspected in deaths of 13 patients in cluster in Tangkak

JOHOR BARU: Variants of concern are suspected to be the cause of 13 Covid-19 deaths involving patients linked to the Tanjung Agas cluster in Tangkak.

State health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said that as of Wednesday (July 28), a total 462 Covid-19 cases had been detected from the cluster with about 44.8% being workers from a semiconductor factory in the district.

"The index patient for the cluster was a worker from the factory who started experiencing symptoms such as fever since June 26 but continued working until June 28.

"The worker tested positive for Covid-19 on July 2.

"On that day, the Tangkak District Health Department conducted an investigation on the factory, and based on contact tracing and screening, several other cases have been identified involving workers there.

"As of July 28, a total of 462 cases have been reported from the cluster with 207 of them being workers from the factory.

"Of that number, 155 are local workers and 52 are foreign workers. The remaining 255 cases are family members of the workers," he said in a statement on Thursday (July 29).

"A total of 13 deaths have been reported to date where all of the cases involved those with comorbidities or chronic diseases.

"Variants of concern are suspected to be involved in the cluster following the high number of deaths reported.

"However, there has yet to be a confirmation on the presence of variants from lab tests," he added.

He noted that the quarantine period of those involved has also been increased to 21 days following the suspected presence of variants.

"A total of 2,501 Covid-19 screenings have been conducted where 462 cases were detected and 2,039 were negative, yielding a positivity rate of 18.5%.

"As of July 28, a total of 1,495 people have been given quarantine orders, with the last case detected among this group on the same day," he said.

He also noted that the factory was ordered to shut down in phases from July 3 for further investigation and sanitisation.

"The factory also completely shut down from July 14 to 20.

"Risk assessment was conducted for the reopening of the factory where several meetings were held between the Health Department and representatives from the factory.

"The factory was allowed to reopen in phases from July 21 with strict standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the International Trade and Industry Ministry," he said.

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