Close watch on 1st possible local transmission of coronavirus

MoH is still unable to determine the infection origin of the 5th positive case involving a mother whose children
are quarantined at the Sungai
Buloh Hospital

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) is investigating the first possible local transmission of the coronavirus as the number of positive cases in the country rises.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (picture) said the ministry is still unable to determine the infection origin of the fifth positive case in the country involving a mother who is currently quarantined at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

The patient is the mother of two children that were confirmed positive for the coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

The two children were the first two cases reported in the country, among three that were announced on Jan 25.

The mother, the wife of a patient who was the first to be tested positive in Singapore, had previously tested negative for the virus.

She became the fifth patient who was confirmed positive after she decided to take care of her sick children at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

“We do not know if the infection occurred earlier in Wuhan before she went to Singapore. We must remember that it is asymptomatic,” Dr Dzulkefly said.

He added that MoH is trying to determine exactly where she contracted the virus, and if it is due to the continuous and constant contact with her children.

“We could not make a conclusion yet,” he said in a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

Dr Dzulkefly said “continuous close contact” has appeared to pose a greater risk of infection. MoH has also included local transmission factor under the observation and assessment.

“For all intent and purposes, you could imagine that they (the mother and children) are bound to all forms of interactions by way of contact, cough, sneeze — and all those must be taken into account to understand the setting between the mother and her two children,” he added.

He said the government will continue to intensify measures to mitigate the situation based on the possibility of the local transmission case.

Meanwhile, one more coronavirus case was confirmed yesterday, bringing the total number of infections in Malaysia to eight. All eight cases involve Chinese nationals.

The latest case is a 49-year-old woman who has been admitted to an isolation ward in Hospital Permai, Johor Baru.

Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement yesterday that the patient is reported to be in stable condition.

She was the close contact to a coronavirus case that was reported in Johor on Jan 29.

As at 12pm yesterday, Dr Dzulkefly said 94 cases were being investigated comprising 48 Malaysians, 43 Chinese nationals and one each from Jordan, Brazil and Thailand.

Additionally, a total of 32 individuals of close contact with the current positive cases have been identified and placed under surveillance.

Dr Dzulkefly said a special task force was mobilised yesterday to coordinate efforts in repatriating Malaysian citizens from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The task force consists of members from the National Disaster Management Agency, Foreign Ministry, MoH and other agencies including Malaysia Airlines Bhd and AirAsia Group Bhd.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously said the government planned to bring home 78 Malaysians in Wuhan and Hubei Province. Putrajaya is in talks with Beijing on the possible evacuation plan.