Good riddance! Pasai Cluster comes to an end

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 cases at Pasai Siong, signboard was erected to prevent entry of outsiders. (File photo)

KUCHING, April 13: Finally, the Pasai cluster in Sibu—Sarawak’s largest and most notorious Covid-19 cluster—was officially ended today after no new cases were detected in the past 28 days.

The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) in its daily updated on the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak, also announced the end of the Buloh Cluster in Selangau which accumulated 37 cases, all of which have recovered.

The infamous Pasai Cluster which was first detected at the end of December 2020 infected a total of 2,693 individuals not only from Sibu but also in at least 10 other districts across Sarawak.

The cluster also registered 29 fatalities while as of yesterday (April 13), a total of 197 active cases are still receiving treatment at hospitals.

A total of 42,100 individuals related to the cluster had been screened whereby 39,407 tested negative.

The Pasai Cluster stemmed from an infected individual who returned from Johor on Dec 29, 2020 to attend a funeral that lasted over three days. She later tested positive for Covid-19 and contact tracing resulted in mass screening in her longhouse as well as nearby longhouses.

By that time when double-digit increases in infections were being detected, the virus had been brought back by guests attending the funeral to their respective longhouses across Sarawak, reaching as far as Belaga. Residents from more than 58 longhouses in Sarawak were subsequently infected.

Pasai Siong, which was the epicentre of the fourth wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in Sarawak in January this year, had adversely impacted Sibu District as the cluster saw soaring numbers of cases for months.

It represented the first widespread community transmission of Covid-19 infections in Sarawak, that has not only rampaged through Sibu but extended its impact to Song District and as far as Kapit District.

In late January, Sibu Hospital was packed with more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients, a record number, mainly linked to the Pasai Cluster and this led to the setting up of the Quarantine and Low-Risk Treatment Centre (PKRC) to isolate the low-risk patients.

Due to the high number of Covid-19 infections, eight longhouses at Pasai Siong were placed under lockdown on Jan 8 but the rapid spread of the cluster caused Sibu Division including Kanowit and Selangau to be placed under Movement Control Order (MCO) until Feb 14 to stop the spread of infections.

Lack of physical distancing and non-compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) by villagers in longhouses were among the reasons for the cluster’s wide reach. — DayakDaily