Kuala Koh orang asli village under quarantine

10 Jun 2019 / 20:16 H.

PETALING JAYA: An orang asli village in Gua Musang, Kelantan, has been put under quarantine after 14 people were reported to have succumbed to a mysterious disease since early May and over half of the villagers have been infected.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the Kuala Koh village would be cordoned off and entry will be allowed only for those with personal protection equipment.

“We need to isolate (those villagers) as the nature of the outbreak is clustered. This means that all of them are suffering from the same infection,“ he said today.

While the villagers claim that 14 people have died, the authorities have only been able to conduct post-mortems on two of the victims. Initial tests showed that both could have died of pneumonia but the exact cause of death has yet to be ascertained.

Dzulkefly said both were likely to have had a bacterial infection followed by a viral infection.

He said a post-mortem could not be conducted on the remaining 12 victims because they were buried in the jungle and it would take time to locate the graves.

He does not rule out exhuming the bodies if necessary but approval from the police would have to be obtained.

Kelantan health director Dr Zaini Hussin said the move to quarantine the villagers was necessary to contain the outbreak.

According to Dzulkefly, of the 185 villagers from 39 families, 99 of them (53.5% of the population) have been infected – a number he described as “very alarming”.

He said that apart from the two who died, 47 individuals have received outpatient treatment, 49 have been warded while another is in intensive care.

“The remaining 86 have not shown any symptoms but are being monitored. If they start showing signs, we will take them to the nearest health facility,“ he said after a visit to the Gua Musang Hospital.

The villagers, all of whom are of the Batek tribe, said the deaths occurred from early May. They also claimed that the deaths were caused by polluted water.

Dzulkefly said the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry has collected samples from the water sources used by the orang asli community.

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