American from cruise ship in Cambodia tests positive in Malaysia

Passengers disembarking from the Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on Feb 15, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR • An 83-year-old American woman who had been a passenger on a cruise ship that docked in Cambodia has tested positive for the new coronavirus on landing in Malaysia.

This brings Malaysia's total number of confirmed cases to 22.

The American woman flew to Malaysia on Friday from Cambodia along with 144 others from the ship, the Malaysian health ministry said in a statement yesterday.

"A total of 145 passengers from the cruise ship had taken a flight to Malaysia on February 14, 2020. Of that number, the woman and her husband were detected as symptomatic as soon as they arrived at KLIA and were referred to Hospital Sungai Buloh for further tests," said Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Malay Mail reported.

"Her condition is stable now and she is undergoing treatment at the hospital's isolation ward," he added.

Although the woman's 85-year-old husband had tested negative, he is currently under the hospital's watch, said Dr Noor Hisham.

The MS Westerdam, operated by Carnival Corp unit Holland America, docked in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville on Thursday after being shunned by five countries on fears that passengers could be carrying the virus.

The Westerdam, carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, spent two weeks at sea. The passengers were tested regularly on board and Cambodia also tested 20 once it docked.

None was found to have the new coronavirus that has killed more than 1,520 people, the vast majority in China.

Earlier yesterday, Malaysia announced two other new coronavirus cases - two Chinese nationals, one a businessman aged 27 and the other a woman aged 32.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the man from Guangzhou was found to be symptomatic when he was screened at an entry point at Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah on Friday.

"Clinical sample (throat swab) was taken, and this morning, the test result confirmed he has Covid-19," said Dr Dzulkefly, in using the name of the disease caused by the virus.

In the case of the woman, she lives in Malaysia but had gone back to China to visit her family from Jan 22 to 30. She, too, tested positive for the virus upon returning.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 16, 2020, with the headline American from cruise ship in Cambodia tests positive in Malaysia. Subscribe