Suspected case of coronavirus detected in Bintulu, says minister

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad says the authorities are not hiding anything about the coronavirus outbreak.

SEPANG: The health ministry has confirmed receiving a report on a Chinese national who works in Bintulu, Sarawak, having symptoms similar to coronavirus infection.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the individual is currently receiving treatment at Hospital Bintulu.

“We just received the news and I spoke directly to the Sarawak health director. It’s true and the patient is already under observation.

“We are waiting for the lab report. The patient is in stable condition,” he said at a press conference after visiting the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and klia2 here today.

Dzulkefly said this brings the total number of patients being treated for having symptoms similar to the coronavirus infection to five, adding that they were all Chinese nationals.

“One is in Bintulu, two children in Hospital Langkawi and two more children in Hospital Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

He said 37 people were investigated between Jan 10 and Jan 26 for possible infection and they comprised 18 Malaysians, 18 Chinese nationals and one Jordanian.

“From these cases, there is one positive 2019-nCov case as informed previously,” he said.

He said Malaysians need not worry about the arrival of tourists from Wuhan, China, as Beijing had already barred flights from Wuhan.

He also advised the people not to be easily influenced and warned them against spreading false reports, adding that it could spark fears and worries.

“We will publish a list of false news reports because there are too many. We don’t want to hide anything. The people should only receive information from the prime minister, deputy prime minister and the health ministry.

“This issue of things going viral is also problematic, aside from the virus itself. We actually have experience in handling patients. The ministry has handled patients who had SARS, H1N1, Zika and others.

“We already have the experience, we are always observing and mobilising our machinery at all entry points in the country. We are always on high-alert regarding this,” he said.

Dzulkefly added that the ministry would increase the number of thermal scanners at entry points into the country to scan tourists who might be carrying the virus.

“We already have 54 thermal scanners and we will add 12 more. This has received the attention of the finance minister and I am confident we will get the approval quickly (to buy the machines) as he has stated his commitment regarding this matter.”