3 more China nationals suspected of coronavirus infection

There are 65 patients under investigation for coronavirus infection. (AP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: There are three new suspected cases of coronavirus infection, the health ministry has confirmed, with all three individuals comprising China nationals.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said one of them is being quarantined at Hospital Bintulu, Sarawak, while the other two in Hospital Langkawi, in Kedah, pending their lab reports.

He said this brings the cumulative number of patients under investigation (PUI) for the novel coronavirus (2019-nC0V) to 65 cases.

Of the 65, 34 are Malaysians, 30 are China nationals and one is Jordanian.

“From these 65 PUI cases, there is one positive 2019-nCov case as informed previously.

“Meanwhile, 61 PUI cases are negative whereas the other three PUI cases involving China nationals are still waiting for the lab results,” he said at a press conference here today.

Dzulkefly said all 17 individuals who were in close contact with the sole positive case have been confirmed to be negative.

Meanwhile, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohammadin Ketapi has urged those managing tourist attraction spots not to turn away visitors because of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.

He said he would be sending letters on the matter to the management of these attractions.

“Those who have entered the country are healthy. Please don’t stop them from visiting important places or attractions.

“This is not right. Why should we stop healthy people from visiting our country?” Mohammadin said at the same press conference.

He was asked about reports on the closure of the Putra Mosque in Putrajaya to non-Muslim visitors due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Mohammadin also said the government would not be revising its target of 30 million visitors this year, adding that the temporary suspension of visas to Chinese nationals from Wuhan city and Hubei province would not have a big impact on tourist arrivals.

He added that of greater concern was the spread of fake news concerning the outbreak.

Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, meanwhile, did not dismiss the possibility that the coronavirus outbreak would have an impact on Malaysia’s economy if it continued to spread.

He also said there was no necessity yet for Malaysia to temporarily stop the imports of products from China, particularly Wuhan, and the government had taken various proactive measures to contain the outbreak and monitor it closely.

“As what happened with the other outbreaks previously, if it continues, it will definitely have an impact on the nation’s economy.

“However, I do not want to make any speculation because this is a serious matter that needs to be monitored by the related agencies and ministry. We will take their advice on the next move that we should take,” Bernama quoted him as saying to reporters after witnessing the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement between Petroliam Nasional Bhd and Agrobank here, today.

The National Union of Seafarers of Peninsular Malaysia (NUSPM) has also urged port health officials to conduct stringent inspections on crew members of ships arriving from coronavirus-hit regions of China.

Its secretary Zaini Nordin  was quoted as saying that this was to prevent the disease from spreading to Malaysian port workers.

“The Marine Department should instruct port health officials to conduct inspections on crew members of ships calling at Malaysian ports from coronavirus-hit regions of China.

“Only port health officials have the right to go onboard and conduct inspections on all crew members,” he told Bernama when asked on the precautionary measures that could be taken by Malaysian port authorities to prevent the virus from spreading to its workers.

Commenting further, Zaini said local port health officials should carry out regular campaigns to educate workers on the Wuhan virus and other communicable diseases that can spread through crew members of arriving ships.