Malaysia on high alert for new coronavirus from Wuhan, China

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

KUCHING, Jan 16: Malaysia has not recorded any cases of Wuhan-linked mystery pneumonia, but the Ministry of Health (MOH) is on high alert nonetheless.

Health director Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stressed that the current influenza infection situation in Malaysia is not related to the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China.

“The influenza situation is still under control. We will continue to closely monitor the viral pneumonia outbreak in China and updates on the development of the outbreak from World Health Organisation (WHO) will be provided from time to time.

“We will ensure that all appropriate precautionary and prevention measures are implemented continuously to prevent and contain the new virus from getting to our shores,” he said in a media release issue today.

Among the measures that have been taken nationwide including ramping up screening procedures at international border entries, monitoring symptoms of influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infection, looking into the usage of antivirus, enhancing test and identification of the new virus, and stockpiling protective gear and medications.

States have been requested to inform the ministry immediately if there are cases with pneumonia symptoms and if any patients have a history of visiting Wuhan recently.

Passengers or travellers detected with a fever will be examined at quarantine centres while a person suspected to have a contagious disease must be referred to the nearest health facility.

Meanwhile, the new strain of coronavirus has caused alarm because it was related to the potentially deadly SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed 349 people in China and 299 in Hong Kong in 2002 and 2003.

The Wuhan outbreak has killed one person so far, with 41 patients reported in Wuhan and seven are said to be in serious condition.

Chinese authorities said that a seafood market in the city which was the centre of the outbreak has since been closed since Jan 1.

World Health Organisation (WHO) also informed that there was so far no indication of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Thailand reported the first import case with a Chinese traveller diagnosed with mild pneumonia and later confirmed to be the novel coronavirus on Jan 13. Thai health officials have reported that she was recovering.

Japan has today confirmed one case, which is the second to be detected outside China.

Its Health Ministry said a man who had visited Wuhan, the apparent epicentre of the outbreak, was hospitalised on Jan 10, four days after his return to Japan. He reported having a persistent fever.

Tests on the patient, who was released from hospital on Wednesday, confirmed he was suffering from the new virus. —DayakDaily

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