KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — Malaysia has not recorded any cases of pneumonia, following the mysterious pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said today.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said efforts have already been increased for Malaysia to be better equipped to monitor and screen travelers at all entry points in the country.
He also told reporters on the sidelines of a smoking-related event at KL Sentral here that MOH’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) is on the ball, amid fears about the potential jump of a mysterious virus from animals to humans, like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak that infected over 8,000 people and killed almost 800 in 2003.
MOH disease control division director Dr Norhayati Rusli, who was also at the same event, said travelers are currently being screened for fever at all international entry and exit points, including Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the main airports in Kuching, Sarawak, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Johor, Penang, and at seaports.
“If fever has been detected, they will be taken for retesting at confirmation centers, and if they are found to have fulfilled the criteria, and (thus) suspected to have pneumonia, we will refer (them) to the nearest health care facility for further action.”
She also said that similar efforts are being carried out at government clinics and hospitals nationwide.
“At this time, no cases (of pneumonia among travelers) from that country (China) have been detected,” she added.
Malaysia joins several countries in the region in screening travelers at airports for fever, following in the footsteps of Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, who have been doing so, following at least 59 reported incidents of pneumonia in Wuhan. All patients are reportedly under quarantine.
The source of the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan has yet to be determined, but some of the pneumonia patients reportedly worked at a fresh seafood and produce market in the central Chinese city, which has since been closed.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday said surveillance for influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection has been intensified in Malaysia, with all suspected cases to be handled in accordance with preventive and infection control procedures.
All health facilities should be fully equipped with personal protective equipment for all health care personnel involved, he added, apart from ensuring a sufficient stockpile of medication. State and district health offices, as well as the CPRC, should be immediately notified of suspected cases.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health said it has imposed temperature screening at Changi Airport for all travelers arriving from Wuhan, China, while Hong Kong authorities similarly said thermal imaging systems would be implemented at boundary checkpoints as part of increased fever surveillance. Taiwan has also reportedly taken similar measures.
Singaporean health authorities on Sunday also said the case of a Chinese toddler with pneumonia they recently detected was not linked to the Wuhan outbreak, but was caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus, a common cause for childhood respiratory infection.