'We are still at peace,' say family of pastor who is Malaysia's first COVID-19 death

The late Pastor David Cheng and his wife, Sim Lee Naa.(Photo: Facebook/Anders Cheng)

The family of a 60-year-old pastor who has become Malaysia's first death from COVID-19 say they are at peace in spite of their loss.

David Cheng, pastor Emmanuel Baptist Church, in Kuching, was diagnosed with coronavirus after being admitted to Sarawak General Hospital with a fever, cough and breathing difficulties last week, Channel News Asia reports

He was transferred to intensive care after his condition deteriorated but he couldn't be saved and passed away on Tuesday. Cheng was suffering from diabetes and hypertension prior to contracting coronavirus, his family said.

His son Anders said he would be cremated.

He has asked for prayers for his mother and sister, who have also tested positive, as well as for his own health as he awaits the results of his test. 

"Give us some time to grieve but fret not, we are still at peace. Death has no sting," he said. 

"My dad is in a place where there is no more pain, sickness, grief, sorrows or worries, and he's in a better place than all of us. So with that, we are putting on our garments of praise and still rejoicing through this storm."

He continued: "As of now, I'm concerned more for my mom and sis and pray that their immunity will clear it without any further complications. 

"Pray with me for my health too that I won't be tested positive and my sister and mom will be ok, (and that) we will come out stronger."

Coronavirus cases in Malaysia have surpassed 1,000, with three recorded deaths. 

Emmanuel Baptist Church was one of four possible coronavirus clusters identified in the north-western state of Sarawak.  The other three are the Good News Fellowship Church, a fundraising dinner for the Democratic Action Party on March 7, and an activity day at SMK St Joseph school on March 13. 

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah has urged anyone who attended these gatherings to be tested. 

"I would like to appeal to those who had attended all these gatherings or those who have close contacts with those who have attended the gatherings, to immediately go to the nearest government hospitals for necessary health screening," he said.

"It is very important to you and everyone else."