KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — A patient suspected to have contracted a new respiratory virus from Wuhan, China, was quarantined in a Sabah hospital yesterday, health authorities said.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced today that the suspected Sabah case of the novel coronavirus, in stable condition, was still awaiting lab test results.
Three other people in Malaysia suspected to be infected with 2019-nCoV have tested negative for the virus that has killed 17 people in China to date and infected over 500 people worldwide, including in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Macau, and Hong Kong. The three negative cases were located in Selangor (two) and Sabah (one).
Dr Noor Hisham said 26 Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals nationwide have been identified to handle suspected coronavirus cases.
MOH has also stepped up screenings at all international travel points.
Suspected 2019-nCoV cases detected at any health facility will be reported immediately to the district health office, state health department, and the national Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre.
“MOH would like to take this opportunity to encourage people to postpone visiting Wuhan, China, except for important unavoidable business,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
He advised those who previously visited Wuhan to seek immediate treatment if they fall sick with respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, within 14 days upon returning to Malaysia.
Wisma Putra has also advised Malaysians to defer non-essential travel to Wuhan and other areas affected by the coronavirus of unknown origin.
Local airlines AirAsia and Malindo Air have suspended flights to and from Malaysia to Wuhan, a Chinese city which is the epicentre of a mysterious pneumonia outbreak, now under quarantine.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Wuhan coronavirus could be caused by a newly emerging member of the family of viruses that caused the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak that infected over 8,000 people and killed almost 800 in 2003 worldwide. Bats and civets are thought to have spawned SARS.