Chemical Poisoning Ruled Out In Orang Asli Deaths

Health authorities tentatively conclude a viral respiratory infection with secondary bacteria.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Two Orang Asli from Gua Musang who succumbed to pneumonia likely died from a viral respiratory infection with a secondary bacterial factor, Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.

The health minister also discounted chemical poisoning as a cause of death, amid claims that the mysterious deaths of 14 people, including the two from pneumonia, from the Bateq tribe in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, could be caused by drinking water contaminated from mining activity.

“From acute phenomenon from pneumonia, this is not because of chemicals, according to the chest X-ray,” Dzulkefly told a press conference in Putrajaya.

“Going by the findings, it’s most likely a viral respiratory infection with secondary bacteria. That’s what we tentatively conclude.”

He added that health authorities were awaiting further test results to identify the actual cause of the respiratory infection.

Dzulkefly also said three people were currently in ICU. A total of 99, or more than half, of 185 residents in the Kelantan village of Kuala Koh were recently sickened by a respiratory infection.

Autopsies were not carried out on the 12 of the 14 who died as they were buried in the forest, with Dzulkefly saying that two post-mortems sufficed.

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