KUCHING: Sarawak broke its streak of having zero positive Covid-19 cases today with four new positive cases recorded in Bintulu district.
The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) in a statement said this brought the total number of cases in Sarawak to 686.
It said the new cases were detected during a health screening conducted on the crew of a ship anchored in Bintulu waters, which had just returned from Toyama Port, Japan.
“These cases were allowed to be signed off due to them experiencing early signs and symptoms of Covid-19.
“A total of five people were brought down from the ship and admitted to the isolation ward at Bintulu Hospital for further treatment and investigation.
“Covid-19 screening tests conducted on Aug 18 found that four of them had tested positive, using the rT-PCR method,” it said.
Out of the four cases, two were Malaysians while the other two were Filipino and Indian citizens, respectively.
The committee said the ship carrying the crew is oil tanker registered in Port Klang, Malaysia.
“The travel history of the ship showed that it had stopped at Toyama Shinko Port, Japan from July 27 to August 1 before stopping at Labuan Port on August 10.
“While on its way to Bintulu waters, the Captain of the ship informed the ship’s agent there were two crew members who were ill and in need of hospital treatment,” it said.
It pointed out that further examination by the Bintulu Division Health Office on August 18 found that five people had experienced the early signs and symptoms of Covid-19.
“All of them were signed off and brought down and sent directly to Bintulu Hospital for further investigation and treatment.
“The rT-PCR screening on them found that four out of five people who showed signs and symptoms of early Covid-19 infection have turned up positive on Aug 20.”
In view of the new cases, SDMC said a new cluster dubbed ‘Alam Cluster’ has been declared with the initial four cases reported.
“Screening of the remaining 22 crew will be carried out soon including screening of all contacts who may be at risk of infection during the process of bringing the cases down from the ship to the hospital.
“Preliminary investigations have shown that this cluster is caused by a foreign infection, which may be carried by the crew who signed on board the ship during a stopover at an international port,” said the committee.
It added that further investigations on this cluster are still underway and tracing and screening of all contacts are in full swing.