KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 107 Covid-19 clusters in the education sector were recorded from Jan 1 to Jan 25, involving 4,633 cases.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the significant increase was recorded after the opening of the 2022 schooling session.

He said out of 107 education clusters, educational institutions from the Ministry of Education (MOE) contributed the highest number, namely 56 clusters (52.3 per cent) followed by other educational institutions (24.3 per cent), higher education (20.6 per cent), and private educational institutions registered with MOE (2.8 per cent).

“In the first Epidemiology Week (EW) in 2022, only three education clusters were recorded, but the increase in clusters was seen at the beginning of the school session, namely the second EW, when 15 clusters were recorded, and this was followed by an increase of 313 per cent in the third EW.

“In the fourth EW, until Jan 25, 2022, another 26 education clusters were reported,“ he said in a statement today.

Dr Noor Hisham said out of the 4,633 cases in the education cluster, 4,092 cases (88.3 per cent) were fully vaccinated, and 112 cases (2.4 per cent) had received the booster dose.

He said 99.7 per cent of the cases (4,621 cases) reported only suffered from mild symptoms (categories One and Two), while only 0.2 per cent (12 cases) were from categories Three and Four, with all of them now in stable condition at healthcare facilities.

“Based on investigations by the District Health Office’s (PKD) on the cases and clusters reported, the infections were due to non-compliance with SOPs (standard operating procedures) by educational institution staff while at school, as well as after schooling hours, especially for those living in hostels.

“Other causes include individuals with symptoms still attending classes and being detected late; pupils quarantined at schools not complying with quarantine instructions and procedures; crowded areas not being regularly cleaned and disinfected; and poor ventilation systems in classrooms and dormitories,” he said.

In this regard, Dr Noor Hisham said a special meeting was held on Jan 22 involving the Ministry of Health, MOE, State Health Department (JKN), National Public Health Laboratory (MKAK), Ministry of Higher Education (KPT), Department of National Unity and National Integration ( JPNIN), as well as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

Among the proposed improvements to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 infection among students and educators is to fully comply with the ‘Guidelines for School Management and Operation 3.0’ issued by the MOE.

In addition, schools need to conduct risk assessments immediately so that students infected with Covid-19 can be isolated and immediate action can be taken on close contacts, while students need to immediately report to a teacher, warden or student representative, in the event they suffered from any mild symptoms.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said 4,744 new Covid-19 cases were recorded today, with 30 cases (0.6 per cent) of them being in categories Three, Four and Five, while another 4,714 cases (99.4 per cent) were from categories One and Two.

“Of the 4,744 cases, 429 were imported cases and 4,315 were local transmissions, while 129 cases require treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 72 require respiratory assistance,“ he said.

He also informed that a total of 21 new clusters were reported today, bringing the total number of active clusters to 259, while the Covid-19 infectivity rate (Rt) in Malaysia yesterday was 1.09. — Bernama