KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Malaysia today confirmed a fourth coronavirus patient, a Chinese national from Wuhan who is hospitalised in Johor Baru after entering the city by bus from Singapore.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the 40-year-old man, who arrived with a group of 17 other Chinese tourists, started getting a fever on January 23 and sought treatment at a private hospital the following day.
The Wuhan resident infected with the novel coronavirus, provisionally called 2019-nCoV, was then transferred to Sultanah Aminah Hospital for care under the Infectious Diseases Medical Team.
“Currently, the case is still having a fever and cough, but he is in stable condition,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement.
“The Johor state health department has acted quickly by tracing all 17 contacts from the same tourist group that had accompanied the case and conducted screenings to check their health.
“Screenings showed they were not feverish and did not show any sign of infection.”
The group of 17 has been quarantined pending results from tests to identify if they have been infected with the SARS-like virus.
Three earlier confirmed coronavirus cases in Malaysia — also Chinese nationals from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak in China — similarly did not have a fever or show signs of infection when they entered Johor from Singapore. The patients were a 65-year-old woman and her two 11-year-old and two-year-old grandsons. The woman’s 66-year-old husband was previously confirmed in Singapore to be infected with 2019-nCoV.
The latest patient infected with the new strain of coronavirus from the same family of viruses as SARS is not related to those three cases.
The entry of 2019-nCoV into Malaysia has triggered some xenophobic sentiments, as an online petition to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and the Immigration Department to bar Chinese nationals from entering the country has reached over 90,000 signatures in less than 12 hours.
According to The Guardian, 41 people have died from the new coronavirus that can cause pneumonia, while 1,372 cases have been reported in China. Worldwide, over 1,400 are infected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the reproductive rate of 2019-nCoV at between 1.4 to 2.5, which refers to the number of people each infected person infects.