Coronavirus in Malaysia under control

Tourism agencies must also keep their customers informed on the latest situation surrounding the outbreak

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

TOURISM industry players have been given the assurance that the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation, that is currently getting global attention, is very much under control in Malaysia.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (picture) said while the government is taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the disease is contained, the tourism industry should also take proper actions and maintain great preventive measures.

He said tourism agencies must also keep their customers informed on the latest situation surrounding the outbreak.

“Those who wish to visit China are advised against travelling until further updates, and everyone should maintain great hygiene such as washing hands frequently, as well as using hand sanitiser.

“Since the trip to China cannot be avoided, our locals are advised against visiting crowded attractions, avoid persons with symptoms, animal farms and markets that sell live animals and avoid uncooked meat,” he said at a media briefing in Putrajaya yesterday.

He added that those who have returned from China are expected to immediately seek medical attention within 14 days of arrival. They are also expected to update their health status and inform the authorities prior to touchdown.

“Industry players such as hoteliers and airlines are expected to maintain great personal hygiene, as well as clean environment including continuous disinfection,” Dr Dzulkefly said.

He said the ministry will monitor the outbreak condition based on information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as establish a network with other Asean countries regarding 2019-nCoV.

“The public will be updated accordingly and any preventive methods will be performed continuously,” he said.

As for the patient-under-investigation cases in Malaysia, Dr Dzulkefly said the latest numbers stand at 65 in total.

“Currently, there are 34 Malaysians, 26 Chinese nationals and other nationalities.

“There were previously five pending cases — two have been confirmed as negative, and there are three left. All these three cases comprise Chinese arrivals,” he said.

It was reported that the Ministry of Health (MoH) will station 12 more thermal scanners at the country’s 64 entry points, in addition to its current 54 thermal scanners in place.

Meanwhile, despite the coronavirus situation, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi is still optimistic that the targeted 30 million tourists for the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign could be achieved.

He said there is no reason to lower the tourism campaign’s arrival target, as the disease effect on the numbers is expected to be minimal.

“Wuhan may be big in population, but only a small number of Chinese tourists are from the city where the virus originated from,” he said.

As of 2018, Wuhan’s population stands at 11.08 million. According to news reports, half of the population had left Wuhan city prior to the Chinese government’s decision to lock down the entire area.

Mohammadin said the authorities in China are also hard at work to ensure that the departing tourists from the country are healthy.

“They are being watched closely prior to their departure to ensure the safety of other countries, and we appreciate that.

“Similarly, we are also going to do the same thing — such as watching our arrivals closely,” he said.

He added that the situation has also been sensationalised by fake news that are spread by fear-mongers.

“As we have heard from the MoH himself, none of the Malaysians are found positive for this virus. Even if they are from China, it is still within a contained situation,” he said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the outbreak does not constitute a global emergency yet.

Most cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported to be in China, with the majority of the 106 deaths reported were localised to the republic’s Hubei Province.

Signs of infection, according to the WHO, include fever, shortness of breath, cough as well as breathing difficulties.