Malaysia Says Contacted Cambodia Before Coronavirus Case Confirmed

Cambodia’s health minister reportedly found out about the positive coronavirus test result of an American woman through the news.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — The Malaysian government today said it had communicated with Cambodia, even before confirming a novel coronavirus infection in an American woman who had disembarked from a cruise ship in Cambodia.

“Communications with the National IHR Focal Point of Cambodia was also done, whereby the Malaysian IHR Focal Point had communicated with the Cambodian IHR Focal Point since 14 February 2020, even before the positive case was confirmed,” Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said in a statement, referring to national centres that communicate with World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHR) contact points on communicable disease outbreaks.

Dzulkefly also said he had a teleconference with his Cambodian counterpart Mam Bunheng today to strengthen collaboration between both countries in tackling the global Covid-19 outbreak.

“I informed His Excellency regarding the improving health status of the US national patient. I have also informed His Excellency that the patient underwent repeated Covid-19 tests, and still found to be positive.”

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Cambodian health minister had learned through the news that the first Covid-19 test of the 83-year-old American woman passenger from the Westerdam, which was allowed to dock in Cambodia Thursday after getting turned away from several countries, had been positive.

Both Cambodia and the cruise ship’s owner, Holland America Line, reportedly questioned the positive results of Malaysia’s first test on the US citizen. But a second test remained positive; the New York Times reported that it’s unclear how the American woman was infected.

Dzulkefly also said that Malaysia’s ninth coronavirus case, a 41-year-old Malaysian man, has recovered fully and was discharged from Sungai Buloh Hospital today.

No new Covid-19 cases were reported, with the total cumulative confirmed cases remaining at 22, out of which 13 patients are still receiving treatment. Fifteen of the 22 coronavirus cases are Chinese nationals, six are Malaysians, and one is American.

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