Johor on Zika alert but no restriction on Malaysians visiting Singapore

Preserved samples of mosquitoes collected from the Zika Forest in south of Uganda's capital Kampala.
Preserved samples of mosquitoes collected from the Zika Forest in south of Uganda's capital Kampala. PHOTO: REUTERS

JOHOR BARU (The Star/Asia News Network) - All Johor health authorities on duty at entry points have been instructed to scan tourists coming into the state from Zika-infected countries, after Singapore confirmed its first imported case of Zika infection.

The Health Ministry said however it has not issued any restriction on Malaysians going to the Republic.

Johor Health Department deputy director Dr Fatimah Othman said the tourists would have their temperature screened and be issued a health alert card that explains the Zika symptoms and urge them to see a doctor if they experience the symptoms.

"We have also put up buntings and banners and distributed flyers at all the international entry points in Johor, warning the people about the Zika virus," she said in a statement on Monday (May 16).

She added that at entry points such as the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex, thermal scan screenings were available to monitor whether visitors from Singapore have a fever if they fail to inform Immigration or Health Departments personnel.


Dr Fatimah added that they were on high alert after Singapore announced on May 13 that a 48-year-old man who visited Brazil had tested positive for the virus.

"Although the Singapore Health Ministry has established that it was an imported Zika case and not one that was contracted in the island republic, both Malaysia and Singapore are in close contact to monitor and prevent Zika from spreading," she added.

She said standard operating procedures have been established since the World Health Organisation issued a warning about the Zika virus in Brazil on Feb 4.

She added all government and private hospitals, district health offices, government agencies and universities were briefed on the virus on Feb 13.

As of April 7, 672 tourists who entered Johor from Zika-affected countries were screened but they did not show symptoms of the virus while 5,291 health alert cards were distributed to visitors who had been screened.

"There are also no reported cases of the virus at health clinics," she said.

Separately, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya advised Malaysians heading to Singapore to stay alert, especially if they develop Zika symptoms like fever, state news agency Bernama reported on Tuesday.

He said the Government has conducted screening tests on 90,000 individuals who have entered Malaysian through Singapore, apart from giving health reminders at all entry points into the country.

"The Malaysian and Singaporean governments are always cooperative when doing screening tests on individuals who have visited Latin America countries such as Brazil, Venezuela and others, especially within the period of last week," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Monday.