Delta variant link suspected

PETALING JAYA: Four out of the 11 Covid-19 cases at the Parliament house could be linked to the Delta variant, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

In a tweet last night, he said the samples taken from four cases had been sent for whole genome sequencing to conclusively determine the variant.

“Today (Aug 1) the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) received four samples for whole genome sequencing from the National Public Health Laboratory in Sungai Buloh.

“These four samples are related to the positive cases in Parliament screened on July 29 where subsequent diagnostic RT-PCR showed positivity with low cycle-threshold (CT) value,” he tweeted.

The CT value refers to the number of “cycles” it takes for the PCR machine to make copies of the virus’ DNA, with a lower CT value suggesting a higher viral load.

Dr Noor Hisham said the genome sequencing process could take eight to 14 days but the genotyping assay suggested that the samples may be linked to the Delta or Kappa variants.

He said the Parliament sitting was a high-risk gathering which had the potential to become a superspreader event.

“Although the number of positive cases detected during the Parliament sitting is 0.8%, the risk assessment found that taking into account epidemiological and environmental factors, the Parliament sitting is a high-risk gathering,” he said.

Earlier, he said the Health Ministry had advised that Parliament sitting and meetings at its premises be postponed for two weeks starting July 29.

Dr Noor Hisham said the suggestion was made based on the health risk assessment and to prevent transmission of Covid-19 in Parliament.“The Health Ministry has suggested that all meetings, such as the parliamentary select committees, special select committees and briefing sessions for those who were at the Parliament from July 26-29, be postponed temporarily for two weeks,” he said in a statement yesterday.

It was earlier announced that the special Dewan Rakyat sitting on Aug 2 had been postponed indefinitely due to the risk of Covid-19 transmission in Parliament.

Dr Noor Hisham said it was previously agreed between both the government and Opposition that should there be a positive case detected among those who physically attended Parliament, the five-day special Parliament sitting would be halted immediately.

He said the agreement was made on Monday at 8am in a meeting that included the Deputy Prime Minister, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and other representatives from both the government and Opposition.

He said the Health Ministry had given them two options – the first was to postpone the special Parliament sitting until the vaccination coverage was at least 40%, especially in the Klang Valley while the second option was for the time of the sitting to be shortened, and for the sitting to be stopped immediately if a positive Covid-19 case was detected among those who attended Parliament.

“The meeting, including the representatives from the political parties, decided to implement the second option,” he said.

He added that the Health Ministry was informed on July 29 at 12.30pm that two Covid-19 cases were detected in Parliament.

After conducting the RTK-Antigen self-test kit there, it was found that there were another nine cases, which made for a total of 11 positive cases in Parliament.

Meanwhile, 17,150 new cases were reported in the country yesterday, with Selangor recording 6,326 new cases and Kuala Lumpur recording 2,086 cases. This brought the total number of cases in the country to 1,130,422.

There were also another 160 new fatalities, bringing the death toll up to 9,184.

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