3 coronavirus cases detected in Malaysia

(Reuters pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The health ministry has confirmed three cases of the new SARS-like virus which has killed 41 people in China and spread to many countries, including the United States, Singapore and Thailand.

Minister Dzulkelfy Ahmad said the three were relatives of a 66-year old Chinese citizen from Wuhan who was diagnosed in Singapore with coronavirus.

The trio are the 66-year-old victim’s 65-year-old wife and their grandchildren aged two and 11.

The three have been isolated at the Sungai Buloh Hospital for treatment and are reported to be in stable condition.

The family reportedly flew from Guangzhou to Singapore on Jan 20 and entered Johor on Jan 23.

Dzulkelfy said tests were carried out on eight people after they received news of Singapore’s first case and reports that the victim had been in close contact with the group.

“After the news was shared with the Johor Health Department, they moved to identify the eight people involved and screened them. Early checks revealed they had no fever and showed no symptoms of the coronavirus. However, clinical samples confirmed the three were diagonised with the coronavirus,” he added.

Dzulkefly urged members of the public who had plans to visit China to put their plans on hold as the outbreak continues to grow.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) said it was taking extra efforts to screen international passengers at its gateway airports across the country in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement issued today, MAHB said it had prepared mitigation plans in close collaboration with the ministry of health.

“Extra measures are being taken by the airport operator, the relevant agencies and the airlines to ensure that the risk of exposure is minimised for the safety of everyone, especially the passengers and staff working at the terminal. We would like to reassure everyone that we are taking this outbreak seriously and we will not compromise the well-being of our stakeholders,” said the statement.

One of the measures MAHB has taken is the thermal screening of arriving passengers and flight crews from China.

MAHB said it had allocated special medical bays for quarantine purposes at the arrival gates to cater to any passenger exhibiting symptoms of the virus. In addition, it has reassigned the arrival gates for incoming flights from China to be nearer to the medical bay to expedite the quarantine procedure and minimise the risk of exposure to a wider crowd.

It also said its airline partners were making the necessary announcements to passengers on board and distributing a Health Alert Card (HAC) issued by the ministry of health for passengers to declare their current state of health.

Those having a fever or cough or facing difficulties in breathing will be immediately brought to the nearest hospital upon arrival.