Man Who Set Off Sivagangga Cluster Jailed Five Months, Fined RM12k

  • 13 Aug 2020

The nasi kandar restaurant owner who set off the Sivagangga COVID-19 cluster has been jailed five months, and fined RM12,000.

Nezar Mohamed Sabur Batcha, 57, who holds a permanent resident status, had earlier got off with a mere RM1,000 fine for breaching the quarantine rule, and causing the spread of the disease across several states. 

This comes as a group of non-governmental organizations and a consumer group in Kedah already mulling a legal suit against the man. 

The Alor Setar magistrate's court imposed the heavier penalty on him.  However, Nezar will not be allowed to serve jail time yet, as he is still under medical observation for COVID-19. 

The Sivagangga cluster was named after the district in Tamil Nadu, India, where Nezar is believed to have been infected with the virus during his visit.

He flouted the home quarantine order upon his return to Malaysia, and was spotted sitting at his shop wearing a pink band on his left wrist on Hari Raya Haji. 

Not only did he flout the quarantine order, Nezar's shop did not record the particulars of customers coming to the premises, as required under the government's COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), for the sake of contact tracing.

Nezar has since set off a rapidly spreading COVID-19 cluster, which has infected at least 45 people, across several states. Authorities are now investigating if a "super-spreading" coronavirus strain from Egypt is responsible for the cluster. 

The rapid spread of the virus in the Kedah even caused the state government to impose Targeted Enhanced Movement Control Order (TEMCO) at four areas surrounding Kubang Pasu. The outbreak has also caused at least five schools to be closed down until the end of August.

His nasi kandar shop has since been ordered to permanently close down.  

As of today noon, Malaysia has recorded a total of 9,114 COVID-19 cases and 125 deaths. 

The global infection and death tally from the disease have surpassed 20.8 million and 747,000, respectively. 

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