Zika outbreak: Thermal screening for travellers entering Johor by bus from Singapore

Malaysia said that travellers entering Johor by bus from Singapore will go through thermal screening for the Zika virus.
Malaysia said that travellers entering Johor by bus from Singapore will go through thermal screening for the Zika virus. PHOTO: ST FILE

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysian Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said on Monday (Aug 29) that travellers who enter Johor by bus from Singapore will go through thermal screening for the Zika virus at the checkpoints.

Those who cross the border via vehicles such as cars, taxis and motorcycles, or trains will not go through thermal scanning. Instead, they will be given a pamphlet on the symptoms of the Zika virus and be asked to report to the Malaysian authorities if they exhibit symptoms, said Datuk Seri Subramaniam.

Symptoms include fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis.

Speaking at a press conference, the Health Minister said between 150,000 and 200,000 people commute between Johor and Singapore daily, posing a high risk for the Zika virus to spread to Malaysia.

"The risk is imminent... The main thing is to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to others," he told reporters.

 

However, thermal scanners are not a foolproof measure against the Zika virus as 80 per cent of those infected do not develop symptoms, said the Health Minister.

The ministry's advice to the public is to control the breeding of the Aedes mosquito and to take precautions against mosquito bites .

"Aedes (mosquito) now acts as a vector to spread three kinds of virus, including Zika," Mr Subramaniam said. The mosquito also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

The Malaysian government has increased outdoor spraying of insecticide to control breeding of the mosquito in areas that include Johor Bharu. 

Mr Subramaniam also told reporters that all Malaysian athletes who returned from the Olympics in Brazil recently had tested negative for the virus.

The stepped-up screening against the Zika virus came after Singapore confirmed 41 locally transmitted cases of the virus. Thirty-six of them are foreign construction workers from a site in Sims Drive.

ltrinna@sph.com.sg