KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — The Health Ministry denied claims on social media that 13 Orang Asli in Gua Musang, Kelantan, had died from a mysterious disease.
Kelantan State Health Department director Dr Zaini Hussin said yesterday the department only verified two deaths in Kampung Kuala Koh, where the Bateq tribe lives, that were found to result from pneumonia, while other so-called deaths were not reported to hospitals or government clinics.
He also disputed the police’s statement that a third Orang Asli villager from Kuala Koh died yesterday from lung infection, saying that the patient at Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II, a three-year-old diagnosed with bronchopneumonia, was still alive and under treatment.
“The total number of residents who have been screened up to June 8 2019 are 155, out of which 83 have symptoms,” Dr Zaini said in a statement last night, adding that these cases were suspected to be pneumonia.
He said the Kelantan state health department has identified an additional 54 cases of fever and cough last Saturday, who were brought to a government clinic for examination and treatment.
Bernama reported Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as saying that the authorities would investigate allegations that the deaths were caused by a contaminated pond used by the Orang Asli as a water source and probe mining and logging activities in the area.
According to Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad’s office, the Tok Batin of Kuala Koh stated 14 Orang Asli had died, but health authorities could only verify two deaths. The remaining were purportedly buried without any post-mortem conducted.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator P. Waytha Moorthy also said yesterday that 14 Orang Asli from Kuala Koh have died.