Pastor’s wife says late husband is not source of Covid-19 Kuching church cluster


Sim (right) and Cheng pose for a photograph together in 2017.

KUCHING: The wife of the pastor who became Sarawak’s first fatality from Covid-19 said today that her husband is not the main transmitter of the virus but one of the victims in the church gathering cluster.

Sim Lee Na said she was saddened to hear that her late husband, Pastor David Cheng, from Emmanuel Baptist Church was still being linked to all the new cases in Good News Fellowship, and felt the need to clarify the matter.

She told The Borneo Post when contacted today that she felt that the virus could have originated from the leadership conference at Good News Fellowship held here from Feb 26 to 28.

“It was only after his passing that I found out that three others who were at the buffet lunch held at Good News Fellowship also tested positive from Covid-19. He did not contribute to the cluster but is in fact a victim with the other three.

“They were all confirmed positive around the same time frame. So my conclusion is that he is not the transmitter but a victim. The only ones he infected were myself and daughter,” she said.

Sim said one of the three was from Kuala Lumpur, as the conference involved a team from the city and was participated by leaders of local churches in Kuching.

She added that all Emmanuel Baptist Church members who came into contact with her husband from Feb 28 to Mar 8 had all tested negative for Covid-19.

“If he was the source of infection since late February, then all Emmanuel Baptist Church members would have been tested positive too,” said Sim.

On a wedding that they had attended on March 7, Sim said they arrived late and left earlier, and were seated at the back of the hall.

She said he only had contact with six to eight people who shared the table with them at the wedding but when he passed away, he was said to have come into contact with 193 people there.

“We then contacted the six to eight people to go for testing when Covid-19 was suspected,” she said.

Sim said there was also a report that said he attended an event at a school with Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, which gave the public the preconceived notion that he was the one transmitting the virus to Yii.

“With all the wrong reports and misinformation from the media it is like rubbing salt to our wounded hearts in our time of grief,” she said.

Yii, who recently recovered from the disease, had said that he contracted Covid-19 after being in close contact with Sarikei MP Wong Ling Biu, who is still undergoing treatment.

Sim said after the conference her husband fell sick on March 6 and sought medical treatment, and had submitted specimens at a government polyclinic for testing.

She said he suffered from shortness of breath on March 13 and was admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital, where he succumbed to the disease on March 17.

“When he was admitted, the first (Covid-19) test on March 13 was negative, then the second test on March 14 was positive. I think people were not aware of the symptoms then, so he wasn’t diagnosed early enough.”

Sim hoped that information about the contact tracing would be set right, adding that she was not trying to smear or hurt any organisation but wanted to clear her late husband’s name.

“We do not know who the carrier is or carriers are. The bottom line is that he’s not the only one from the first generation, and therefore not the main source to those second generation from the cluster,” said Sim.

She pointed out that the infographic by the Health Ministry on April 5 contained many errors and the one by the State Disaster Management Committee on March 25 and 31 were more accurate as far as her husband was concerned.

The committee’s infographic on March 31 showed that the pastor was one of six people in the first generation of the church gathering cluster but not the first confirmed positive case.