'Don't be alarmed by WHO's Covid-19 warning'
Published on: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
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File photo: AFP
PUTRAJAYA: The outbreak of Covid-19 virus, formerly known as novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), has yet to reach a crisis proportion and well under control, according to the Health Ministry.

Referring to a World Health Organisation's (WHO) advisory which urged Malaysia to take necessary preparations as the region was facing a critical juncture with the virus’ confirmed presence in many parts of the world, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said since the outbreak had not reached a crisis-level, there was no need for alarm.

"WHO has asked Malaysia to prepare for a possibility of a wider transmission and this statement from its regional director for the Western Pacific, Dr Takeshi Kasai may cause a bit of anxiety (among Malaysians).

"We take this (advice) in perspective but from our observation of the current situation, we believe we have not reached that stage. If at all we do come to the stage, we believe we are prepared to face it and have the capability to handle it”.

He said as of today, the cluster episode has been well-managed by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

"The fact that Nadma has not passed the baton to the Prime Minister showed that it's yet to become a national crisis, (which warrants for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's intervention). So it is not a crisis yet and Nadma is managing it well, rest assured," he said in a press conference at the ministry, here, today.

Also present were Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and deputy Health director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong.

Dr Dzulkefly said the ministry is currently working to equip more laboratories with the coronovirus testing capability/facilities.

"We now have 18 government hospital laboratories and 5 private laboratories equipped with the facilities to carry out the test nationwide," he said.

He added that despite 550 close contacts sample tested for the virus, the number of positive cases remained unchanged at only 18 cases, thus far.

"We have also got 26 new thermal scanners, bringing the total number of scanners to 80. These scanners will be placed at all exit and entry point, including in Johor where the volume of daily travellers is quiet high," Dzulkefly said.

He said the scanners are expected to be up and running at all border entry/exit points soon.

Meanwhile, on cross border effort to contain the disease between Singapore and Malaysia, he said both nations' health ministries had agreed that screening at all entry and exit points between the two countries required further strengthening.

"Based on the video conference we had with our Singapore counterpart yesterday (Tuesday), we decided to form a working committee headed by both nations' deputy health ministers. He hope to follow through the formation working committee within a week.

"Especially involving the CIQ in Johor where on a daily basis, there are about 300,000 people going in and out of our (common) border. The collaboration is in term of clinical, medical, public health, patient management, research and sharing of information.

"The working committee will be in addition to the pre-existing Asean emergency operation centre and emergency operations centres which are also working very closely on the screenings at all CIQs," he said.

As of Feb 12, there are 44 787 reported cases in 25 countries, with 1,112 deaths. Malaysia has reported 18 positive cases.


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