Rise in Zika cases

Malaysia steps up health screening at entry points

A travel advisory on the yellow fever infection is seen as travelers pass by the automatic passport gate at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug 28.
A travel advisory on the yellow fever infection is seen as travelers pass by the automatic passport gate at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug 28.PHOTO: EPA

PENDANG/KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) is stepping up health screening at the border entrance to Johor following reports of a Malaysian woman infected by the Zika virus in Singapore.

Similar health screening is also being implemented at airport terminals which host direct flights from Singapore, such as in Penang and Langkawi, the New Straits Times yesterday quoted Deputy Health Minister Hilmi Yahya as saying in Pendang, Kedah.

He advised Malaysians who have travelled to Singapore and who are down with fever to go for medical examination and treatment.

Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said: "As a precautionary step, MOH has increased monitoring at the two main entry points in Johor Baru and distributed pamphlets about prevention against Zika infection.

"The precautionary monitoring includes preparing a group of paramedics at the entry points to manage the situation if there are visitors exhibiting signs of Zika."

The ministry told The Straits Times that thermal scanners will be set up.

The Malaysian authorities have been monitoring visitors from countries affected by Zika since the outbreak started last year and, so far, no cases of infection have been found.

"We have also examined 784 blood samples of those showing an active possibility of the infection and found that the results were all negative for the virus," said Dr Noor Hisham.

"Visitors from the affected countries were also given a Health Alert Card as a precautionary measure."

The 47-year-old Malaysian woman in Singapore contracted the virus locally as she had not visited any of the affected countries.

She started to have a rash, fever and conjunctivitis last Thursday and saw a doctor the day after before being taken to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

"We are in close contact with the Singapore Health Ministry to better understand this situation and get updated information on the local spread of the virus. "This is to ensure that all prevention and containment methods can be carried out," said Dr Noor Hisham.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia steps up health screening at entry points'. Print Edition | Subscribe