WHO in its advisory note called for the country to be prepared for a possible wider coronavirus transmission
by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
THE Ministry of Health (MoH) said the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid19) in the country is still under control, as no new cases were reported as of yesterday, maintaining 18 positive cases with zero death.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (picture) said the infection rate is considerably small, compared to the total 550 screening conducted by the ministry since the outbreak.
The statement was made following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advisory note, which called for Malaysia to be prepared for a possible wider coronavirus transmission.
“We are taking the perspective that we have yet to come to the stage mentioned by WHO. If at all we come to such a level, we are also ready to face it,” he told a media conference in Putrajaya yesterday.
He added that MoH, as the national caretaker and respondent to the virus from Wuhan, China, will continuously assess and review the situation and will take appropriate action according to the development.
In a note yesterday, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific Dr Takeshi Kasai said the region is at a critical juncture in the coronavirus disease, which WHO had named Covid-19 on Tuesday.
Takeshi said the move is paramount, as the latest information suggests that the virus may be more transmissible than early data recorded.
He said although this does not mean that the virus will start spreading easily within Malaysia soon, the country must be ready in case there is an indication of a wider spread.
“This requires action today, because preparation takes time, especially to ensure that the response reaches everyone in all parts of the country,” Takeshi said.
He said responding to wider transmission would require shifting the focus of activities to protect the vulnerable and minimise the health and social impacts.
“If we don’t prepare now, we will not be able to activate those plans when they are needed,” he added.
Covid-19 has killed more than 1,000 patients in China, infecting over 40,000 people. In Malaysia, out of the 18 positive cases, three had been cured.
Dr Dzulkefly said in Malaysia, the alarm level has not reached that suggested by WHO.
He said there are 18 public labs and five private labs that are currently running to facilitate coronavirus tests and MoH is ready to roll out more test labs if necessary.
Currently, the ministry is reporting to the National Disaster Management Agency on the Covid-19 cases, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Dr Dzulkefly said there is also no plan to hand over the crisis to the prime minister for the time being.
On the same development, Dr Dzulkefly said MoH and its Singapore counterpart are expected to establish a working committee to facilitate movements at the causeway linking both countries, crossed by some 400,000 people daily.
This, Dr Dzulkefly said, is to allow a smooth flow between both nations in curbing the spreading of the virus.
“We hope the group can be established within a week. It will be co-chaired by both country’s deputy health ministers and comprising experts from the public health offices, as well as infection disease specialists,” he added.
Dr Dzulkefly also announced an additional 26 thermal scanners to be delivered to Malaysia’s entry points soon, making a total of 80 thermal scanners to be manned by MoH officials from the current 54.