Don’t panic, we have outbreak under control, says Wan Azizah

Checks continue on visitors to Malaysia to detect those suffering from the coronavirus. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has called on Malaysians to remain calm in the face of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China.

Wan Azizah, who chaired a high-level emergency meeting in her capacity as the head of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) here today, said various local and international agencies are cooperating to stem the spread of the outbreak in Malaysia.

The coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, has spread to 14 countries and has seen four confirmed cases in Malaysia.

“We don’t want the public to panic. We have things under control,” Wan Azizah told the media during a press conference here today.

“We have put up more thermal screening machines, especially at the Johor-Singapore border.”

She also said Malaysia had no plans to restrict flights from China.

Commenting on the case of two Chinese nationals arrested at the Senai International Airport last night, after refusing a hospital’s order to quarantine their toddler suspected to have been infected with the coronavirus, Wan Azizah said the government had no plans to station police officers at hospitals.

“The hospitals will inform the police if such cases happen again,” she said, adding that hospitals already had security guards.

“Anyone in Malaysia who has returned from China over the last 14 days should get themselves checked, even if they show no symptoms,” Wan Azizah said.

“Malaysia has done well during previous outbreaks such as SARS, the Nipah virus and the Ebola virus.

“It shows we have the capacity to control such outbreaks, but we need the cooperation from everyone.”

Meanwhile, health ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a statement, said two Malaysians and two Chinese nationals are still under quarantine for suspected coronavirus, while waiting for their test results.

“The four are in stable condition and are being monitored in isolation wards at government hospitals,” he added.

He said 23 people were placed under observation for the virus earlier. They included 14 Malaysians, eight Chinese citizens and one Jordanian.

Eighteen of the 23 were discharged after medical reports confirmed they had not contracted the coronavirus. They included 12 Malaysians, five Chinese citizens and one Jordanian.

He said individuals suspected for the coronavirus will be quarantined for 14 days after exposure to stop the virus from spreading.

Those who do not follow instructions of the authorities are liable to a prison sentence of not more than two years and can also be fined. The ministry has advised Malaysians to postpone their trips to China unless it is for emergency reasons.