KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 – Health authorities will quarantine and prohibit the public from entering Kuala Koh in Gua Musang, Kelantan, after 14 Orang Asli reportedly died from an infectious outbreak.
Kelantan State Health Department director Dr Zaini Hussin said more than half, or 99 of the 185 residents from the nomadic Bateq tribe at Kampung Kuala Koh, have suffered respiratory infections, displaying symptoms like cough, cold, fever, and breathing difficulties.
The 99 includes the two verified deaths from pneumonia.
“If you look at the pattern of respiratory infections, it quickly spreads.
“So in those areas, we want to limit movements so that they’re not exposed to respiratory infections,” Dr Zaini said in a press conference with Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad at Hospital Gua Musang today.
Dzulkefly said if outsiders want to visit Kuala Koh, which has a quarantined radius of 3km, they must be equipped with personal protection equipment.
He added that health authorities have yet to identify the cause of the respiratory infection in the Orang Asli village.
“We will find out the cause of the pulmonary diseases.”
Dzulkefly also said respiratory infections were common, pointing out that the immunity of the Orang Asli was compromised because they were malnourished, while some were not vaccinated.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator P. Waytha Moorthy said villagers informed him yesterday that 14 Orang Asli died while they were travelling from Jerantut in Pahang to Kelantan, including the two whom authorities confirmed had succumbed to pneumonia. Most of them were buried in a forest.
“It is their nature that when they’re very sick, they don’t live in the village. They were on the move. As they were on the move, deaths occurred and they buried them in the forest,” he said at the press conference.
Dzulkefly said there was no need to exhume the bodies of the Orang Asli buried in the forest, unless there were requests, as the two post-mortems were enough.
“They are sufficient to represent the rest, but if there are requests, no problem.”