China coronavirus outbreak: Malaysia on ‘high alert’ ahead of Lunar New Year travel rush – SCMP [20 Jan 2020]

20 Jan 2020, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian health authorities say they are on high alert following the outbreak of the China coronavirus.

Health Ministry director general Noor Hisham Abdullah said thermal scanners were being used to screen travellers at border points.

“Our preparedness and response team at all international entry points and health facilities particularly the Kuala Lumpur International Airport health office are on high alert following the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak.

“The thermal scanners and the Health Quarantine Centre at the KLIA terminal are prepared and on high surveillance.

“The roles played by these various health units at the airport and also other international entry points are very important in safeguarding the country from various potential communicable diseases from high-risk areas,” he said on Monday.

The announcement comes just days before millions of Chinese prepare to travel for the Lunar New Year holiday, often labelled “the world’s biggest migration”, and follows the confirmation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the new coronavirus has spread to Japan and Thailand. Meanwhile, South Korea on Monday reported its first confirmed case of the virus, in a woman who had travelled to the country from Wuhan, China, where the disease is thought to have originated.

The pneumonia outbreak linked to the new type of virus had been traced to seafood and animals, according to the WHO.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the ministry was now in the process of collecting data on previously “non-notifiable” influenza cases following the emergence of the Wuhan virus.

“Influenza was not one of the notifiable diseases.

“However, [in the wake of the outbreak in China] we need a little bit more time to collate all the data.

“We will collect all the information and data from the Health Ministry, Education Ministry, Sabah, and Sarawak state governments.

“It will take a bit more time. The ministry’s CPRC [Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre] is carrying out surveillance and will update soon,” he said.
Dzulkefly also confirmed that, so far, the new coronavirus had not been detected in Malaysia.

For the original story, see The Star Online