Malaysia exchanging information with Singapore on Zika situation

NEA officers and contractors carrying out misting and inspection, and issuing notices to residents at Watten Estate on May 15, 2016.
NEA officers and contractors carrying out misting and inspection, and issuing notices to residents at Watten Estate on May 15, 2016. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

KUALA LUMPUR •Malaysia's Health Ministry said yesterday that it has been in contact with its Singapore counterpart to exchange information on the Zika virus, and that Malaysia is free of the virus so far.

"The Singapore Health Ministry has confirmed a case involving a permanent resident who was infected with the Zika virus after visiting Brazil, and that the patient has never visited Malaysia," the Health Ministry's director-general, Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah, said in a statement, as quoted by the Bernama news agency.

Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia has taken preventive steps against the virus including enhancing its monitoring at several immigration checkpoints.

Without early prevention, Malaysia is also at risk if its people visit the affected nations, he said.

He said 472 blood samples of people had been tested by Malaysia's National Public Health Laboratory and the Institute of Medical Research, with the virus not detected in the country as of last Thursday, Bernama reported.

Dr Noor Hisham was commenting on Singapore's first confirmed Zika case, which was announced last Friday.

According to the latest information released by the World Health Organisation, 58 countries were affected by the virus from January 2014 until May 11, the Malaysian news agency said.

China yesterday confirmed Beijing's first imported case of Zika virus infection, the Xinhua news agency reported. The patient, a 29-year-old woman from eastern Shandong province, had returned from Venezuela last Friday, said Beijing's health and family planning commission.

Meanwhile, the Johor Baru Health Department has been asked to increase surveillance at immigration entry points as a precautionary measure following the Zika virus case reported in Singapore.

Malaysia's Deputy Health Minister Hilmi Yahaya said that, as a preventive measure, cooperation had also been stepped up with the Indonesian and Thai authorities to share information about the spread of the virus, Bernama reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia exchanging information with Singapore on Zika situation'. Print Edition | Subscribe