In the midst of this eventful start of the Lunar New Year, even as we step gingerly into 2020 from 2019, #nCoV2019 abounds on our social media pages.
Truly nothing can compare with what is ongoing now in Wuhan. Yet we in Malaysia have now not only been plagued with fear of the unknown. In fact, what is worse is the transformation of this fear into ridicule of the very professionals who are involved in our country in the decision-making as we now see, in combating this virus that has reached the shores of so many countries so far, outside of China.
One subtle detail that I wish to point out now and certainly put in an acclamation of gratitude is the promptness of action by our Ministry of Health (MOH), plus I am sure, also the Immigration Department in the lead-up to the first three confirmed novel coronavirus 2019 infections in Malaysia.
It all started on Friday, 24th Jan 2020, the time of New Years Eve Dinner for those ushering in the Year of the Rat. News was just announced about the first 2019-nCoV case in Singapore on Thursday, 23rd Jan 2020. Table conversation revolved on whether we in Malaysia will be next.
Then on the following day, Saturday, 25th Jan 2020, our Minister of Health announced that we have just had our first three cases, all related to the first case in Singapore.
Yet on further reading of the background through news portals, it was mentioned that Singapore’s first case; a 66-year-old man originally from Wuhan, was part of a family that arrived in Singapore on Monday, 20th Jan 2020. He presented with fever and cough on Wednesday, 22nd Jan 2020 and was immediately considered as a suspect case by Singapore General Hospital.
His 37-year-old son also showed symptoms and was also isolated as a suspect case. Interestingly is where we find out further that the father and son was part of travel group of 10 (including them).
Hence the remaining eight traveling companions “left Singapore” into Johor, where I am sure our Immigration Department was informed leading to this group of eight crossing the border on Thursday, 23rd Jan 2020, only to be quarantined, pending test results.
The rest as they say is now history, but with more details. We have now our first three cases in Malaysia — 65-year-old wife of the first Singapore patient, plus two grandchildren — 11-years-old and 2-years-old. Interesting to note was that the mother to the grandchildren remained negative and stayed on with the three and is now caring for them as they are treated in Hospital Sungai Buloh.
Now remember it was an original travel group of 10 from China. Six have been accounted for; two now in Singapore and three in Malaysia with the 6th who tested negative caring for them. Finally there is the four of another family in that travel group who tested negative and were sent back to China on that same day, Saturday, 25th Jan 2020. This begs a question now.
Have our frontline personnel — whether immigration or medical or even the Foreign Office — slackened in their work? I certainly do not think so!
Let’s remember the hundreds of staff who were also mobilised in contact tracing, preparation in transportation of patients, preparation of the isolation wards, and the continued need also to fend off the irritant occasional fake news that pops up!
My salute is to all who are involved in this endeavour. It is indeed a worldwide effort to counter a menace that will eventually run its course. BEST WISHES to all at the CPRC (Crisis Preparedness & Response Centre)!
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.