Wuhan virus: Malaysia confirms eighth case of infection

A sold-out sign for masks at a pharmacy in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. All eight confirmed cases in Malaysia are Chinese citizens.
A sold-out sign for masks at a pharmacy in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. All eight confirmed cases in Malaysia are Chinese citizens. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A couple wearing masks at a Kuala Lumpur restaurant. The latest case is a person who was in close contact with the seventh confirmed patient.
A couple wearing masks at a Kuala Lumpur restaurant. The latest case is a person who was in close contact with the seventh confirmed patient.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR • The number of 2019-nCoV infections in Malaysia increased to eight yesterday after a Chinese national tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has killed at least 170 people in China.

Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said the latest incident involved an individual who was in close contact with the seventh confirmed patient, the Malay Mail news site reported.

All eight confirmed cases are Chinese citizens.

The eighth case is a 49-year-old woman who has been admitted to an isolation ward in Hospital Permai, Johor Baru, and is reported to be in stable condition, Datuk Noor Hisham said in a statement.

Meanwhile Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that 14 people who had arrived in Malaysia on a flight were barred from entering the country after the Immigration Department learnt that they were from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

"I have been informed that on Tuesday, 14 passengers from Wuhan had landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. They were then barred from entering and have been sent back," said Tan Sri Muhyiddin, as quoted by The Star.

Last Saturday, Malaysia announced the discovery of its first three cases - three tourists from Wuhan - who had entered the country at Johor Baru after crossing over from Singapore.

They are a 65-year-old woman and her grandsons, aged 11 and two. The woman's 66-year-old husband, also from Wuhan, tested positive for the coronavirus in Singapore.

Meanwhile, The Star reported that those who travel daily between Malaysia and Singapore are concerned over what they see as a lack of temperature screening at Johor's checkpoints.

Frequent travellers say there is no screening at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine checkpoint for those arriving by motorcycle, car, bus or train.

About 8,000 passengers use the KTMB train service between Singapore's Woodlands and Johor Baru Sentral daily, with KTMB providing 31 trips via its Tebrau shuttle.

 
 
 

Frequent traveller S. Tamilarunan, 32, said he was surprised that there was no screening done at the motorcycle lane at the Johor checkpoint when he enters Malaysia.

"I thought there will be stringent checks in the wake of the virus, but it seems the authorities on the Malaysian side are leaving everything to their Singaporean counterparts," he said.

Mother of two Natalie Ten Yen Ling, 40, who went on a holiday with her family to Singapore recently, said there was stringent screening at the Woodlands side.

"We were caught in a massive jam due to the stringent checks by Singapore but when we entered Malaysia, it was a swift and smooth experience with no screening, much to our dismay," she told The Star.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysia confirms eighth case of infection'. Subscribe