PETALING JAYA: The country's education sector recorded a staggering increase in Covid-19 clusters after the opening of the school session in 2022, compared with last year, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Since the start of the new year till Jan 25, the Health director-general said 107 Covid-19 clusters were recorded in the education sector involving 4,633 cases.
Dr Noor Hisham said in the epidemiology week one this year, there were only three education clusters recorded, but after the school session started during week two, 15 new clusters were recorded.
"There was an increase of 313% in epidemiology week three and in epidemiology week four until Jan 25, another 26 clusters were recorded," he said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 26).
Of the 4,633 cases, he said 4,092 cases have been fully vaccinated and 112 cases have received their booster shots.
"The majority of the cases that have been reported only experienced mild symptoms which is 4,621 cases (99.7%) while 12 cases (0.2%) consist of those in category three and four. All the 12 cases are in a stable condition and are being treated at a healthcare facility," he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said based on the investigation conducted by the District Health Office on the cases and clusters that were reported, these incidents happened due to non-compliance of the SOPs by the education institution staff in school and outside school hours, especially in the dormitories.
He added that this is also due to symptomatic individuals were detected late and were still allowed to attend class, students who were quarantined in school did not adhere to quarantine procedure, areas where students congregated were not cleaned and disinfected periodically, and the substandard ventilation system in classrooms and dormitories.
To reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 infection among students and educators, Dr Noor Hisham said schools are advised to fully adhere to the “School Management and Operations 3.0 Guidelines" released by the Education Ministry.
"They also have to quickly conduct risk assessment so that students infected with Covid-19 can be isolated and action can be quickly taken towards the close contacts. Students also have to quickly report to their teacher, warden or student representative even if they have mild symptoms like the flu," he said.
He also suggested for the institution management to prepare appropriate space to isolate positive cases and close contacts, and for disinfection and cleaning works to be frequently done especially on surfaces that are frequently touched.
He added that they too have to ensure that the ventilation in the classrooms, dormitories, and enclosed spaces are in good condition, and for the self test results conducted by the student with the guidance of their parent or guardian must be reported to the school authorities, among others.