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Health DG: Asymptomatic trend among tahfiz fraternity worrying

PUTRAJAYA (May 14): The Health Ministry found that some 539 among the 635 tahfiz school students, teachers and staff members who tested positive, or 89.4 percent, had no respiratory symptoms.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pictured) said this was a situation that could possibly cause widespread infection among their family members and local community if preventive measures were not taken.

The MOH’s active case detection and targeted approach have, to date, identified 19,209 individuals comprising students, teachers and staff from 370 madrasah tahfiz centres nationwide.

Of these, 12,384 samples were taken out of which 635 turned out positive, 10,755 cases negative while 994 cases are awaiting results.

Based on these screening results, the positive rate among this risk group was 5.1 percent, compared to the situation one week ago when it was 4.4 percent.

“This increase in the positive rate is worrying as it shows that the probability of infecting others from this group is on the rise,” he said in the ministry’s daily COVID-19 media briefing here today.

He said to date, there were six COVID-19 tahfiz school clusters, of which four were sub-clusters of the Sri Petaling gathering, while the other two are still being investigated.

“The Solok Duku tahfiz cluster is the latest to be identified. So far, 107 students, teachers and family members have been screened, in which two COVID-19 positive cases among 35 students were detected. There were no positive cases among the 10 teachers while two positive cases were found among family members of teachers, staff and students,” he said.

The five other tahfiz clusters were the ones in Sungai Salan, Pahang (84 cases); Sungai Lui, Selangor (172); Ayer Merbau, Melaka (41); Tahfiz Lanchang, Pahang (six) and Penanti, Penang (six cases).

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry had been notified that there were more than 1,000 private tahfiz schools that have yet to come forward for screenings.

“The ministry is urging their managements to contact the district health offices or the ministry itself for screenings to be done on their students.

In view of this, Dr Noor Hisham said the MOH has come up with an action plan, which includes getting tahfiz students who have been returned home to contact the nearest district health offices, health clinics or MOH screening hospitals for COVID-19 sample testing.

“Students who have yet to return home are advised to stay put at their centres and to contact the nearest health offices or health clinics for samples to be taken,” he added.

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