PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy has confirmed that 14 Orang Asli villagers from Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, have died from an illness believed to be pneumonia.
Waytha, who is en route to visit the patients and the villagers, said 83 villagers are being treated, with 37 receiving outpatient treatment and 46 being hospitalised.
Of those hospitalised, two are in serious condition — a 36-year-old woman and a 3-year-old child.
However, police claimed they had information that only three Orang Asli had died from the respiratory illness, including one who died this morning at the Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II in Kota Bharu.
District police chief Mohd Taufik Maidin said a post-mortem on two of these cases showed their lungs were infected.
He hoped the residents will inform police if anybody died in the village for proper investigations to be carried out.
He said 119 Orang Asli had been taken from the village for treatment over the past week.
Speaking to FMT, Waytha said he was informed that some of those who died were travelling by foot from the Taman Negara area in Pahang towards Kelantan.
“During the journey, they passed away and were buried along the way.”
Waytha said he had just met Kelantan state health director Dr Zaini Hussin, together with his team of medical specialists, to get an update on the situation.
“Two post-mortems have been carried out and the cause of deaths, I was told, is pneumonia,” he said, adding the villagers were also found to be malnourished.
Preventive measures were being taken, he said, including the screening of the villagers, active case detection, isolation of those affected and hospitalisation.
He said certain types of pneumonia may be contagious and this was why the isolation of those affected was needed.
“The state Health Department is visiting the village every two to three days to monitor the situation.”
Waytha said at this point, the cause of the sudden illness was still being investigated.
Earlier today, Zaini was reported as saying that tuberculosis had been ruled out as the cause of death as more villagers were being taken to clinics to be treated for cough and fever.