The Jakarta Post
The Health Ministry said it had not tracked nearly 700 Indonesian citizens that had attended a religious mass gathering in Sri Petaling Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, despite dozens of people having tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the event.
The ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, said he had yet to receive any information regarding the event from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
“If such an event took place, our embassy [in Malaysia] will let us know for sure,” Yurianto said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.
Reuters reported that Malaysian authorities were tracking around 5,000 citizens across the country believed to have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus at a religious event on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The Malaysian Health Ministry said the contact tracing was initiated after neighboring Brunei reported its first COVID-19 case on Tuesday: a 53-year-old man who had attended the same event at a mosque between Feb. 27 and March 1.
“The Health Ministry urges all who attended the event to cooperate with health officials to ensure COVID-19 does not continue to spread in their communities,” the ministry’s secretary- general, Noor Hisham Abdullah said as quoted by Reuters.
Further contact tracing by Brunei authorities found 81 citizens that had attended the event, 16 of whom were tested positive for COVID-19, as reported by Borneo Bulletin.
Separately, The Straits Times reported that Singapore’s Health Ministry had found that at least 90 Singaporeans attended the event. Two of them had tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
The mass religious gathering involved up to 10,000 members of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation from several countries. The Straits Times reported that a photo of a noticeboard at the event showed that it was attended by more than 1,500 foreign participants from 27 countries, including 696 people from Indonesia, 81 from Brunei and 95 from Singapore.
Yurianto refused to answer journalists’ questions on whether authorities would trace Indonesian citizens that had attended the event. He, however, said the government needed to move swiftly to contain the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan and Idul Fitri, when public gatherings were hard to avoid.
"We need to move swiftly to address this concern as Idul Fitri is coming. It's impossible not to shake hands with the elderly. It will also be a hassle for families to perform Eid prayers in their respective homes,” he said. (nal/mrc)