Coronavirus: M’sia to discuss preventive measures with S’pore after Orange Alert

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will hold discussions with Singapore following the island-state’s move to raise its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level from Yellow to Orange in efforts to curb the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus infection.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (pix) said the discussions, among others, will include talks on measures to be taken to protect workers from both countries.

“This is to look at how both countries can stop the virus from spreading further as many of our citizens work in Singapore, and vice-versa.

“I have discussed this matter with Sungai Buloh Hospital Infectious Disease Senior Consultant Dr C. Suresh Kumar and we are very concerned with current developments of the infection,” she said at a media briefing on the latest developments of the coronavirus infection situation here yesterday.

The deputy prime minister said in the case of Singapore, there had been victims who contracted the virus from visiting Chinese nationals.

On the other hand, Wan Azizah, who is National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) chairman, said the cases in Malaysia were not direct transmissions from Chinese nationals in the country.

“We don’t want to have any cases from Malaysians to Malaysians who have not travelled to China or have contact with Chinese nationals. Those are the sporadic cases that we are trying to curb,“ she said,

The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday detected new coronavirus cases comprising Singapore citizens with no known links to previous cases or no recent travel history to China, and following this, raised its Dorscon level from Yellow to Orange.

The republic also raised protection levels for vulnerable groups, including suspending inter-school and external activities till the end of the March school holidays.

Asked whether Malaysia needs to impose a blanket travel ban for all Chinese nationals, the deputy prime minister replied that there was no need for that at this point of time.

Wan Azizah said besides preventing unnecessary panic, the move was also in line with the World Health Organisation’s current stand that widespread travel bans and restrictions weren’t needed to stop the outbreak.

“In Malaysia the situation is still under control. We have to balance between taking care of public health and prevent the spread of the infection, while at the same time ensure that the national economy will not suffer,” she said.

However, the deputy prime minister admitted that the coronavirus cases had created an impact on economic growth, especially the tourism and hospitality sectors and small and medium enterprises, including the homestay business.

On concerns that the Malaysian tested positive on Feb 4 may have ‘spread’ the virus to others as he was believed to have visited several places before he was diagnosed, Wan Azizah said there is no reason for people to panic.

She said the Health Ministry had tracked down 69 individuals who had close contact with the 41-year-old man and after diagnostic and validation tests were carried out, all of them were confirmed negative for coronavirus.

The Selangor native became the first Malaysian tested positive for coronavirus after attending a meeting in Singapore held from Jan 16 to 22 involving international participants including delegates from China.

To date, 16 people have tested positive for 2019 novel coronavirus in Malaysia, 12 of whom are Chinese nationals while four are locals. — Bernama