Covid-19 scare for Malaysia's new ruling coaliton: Man who attended gathering with PM was in contact with confirmed case

People wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Feb 18, 2020.
People wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Feb 18, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - The newly-formed governing coalition in Malaysia is faced a Covid-19 scare on Monday (March 2) after it emerged that one of those who gathered at new prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin's home over the weekend had come into contact with a confirmed patient.

Mr Redzuan Yusof, the entrepreneur development minister in the now collapsed Pakatan Harapan government who defected to the new coalition, attended a ministry function on Feb 27 with a senior member of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad later confirmed to have the virus.

Mr Redzuan later told Bernama that he had tested negative for the virus but was still putting himself on quarantine at home.

Malaysia's Health Director-General Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah also said on monday that none of the tests done so far on contacts of the case have turned up positive.

"To date, none of the close contacts to patient 26 has tested positive," Mr Hisham said on Monday. "We will continue to trace the contacts."

There were concerns that Mr Muhyiddin and a host of potential ministers of the new Perikatan Nasional coalition might have been exposed to the virus.

Party leaders from those in the newly-formed coalition had crowded into Mr Muhyiddin's home on Saturday, to congratulate him after he was named as next prime minister of Malaysia by the king. A video circulating online of the scene at Mr Muhyiddin's home shows many of those present hugging each other as they emerged victorious from a week of political chaos.

Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in by the king at the palace a day later.

The patient is understood to be Mr Hisham Hamdan, an executive director of Khazanah and chairman at urban development agency UDA Holdings Berhad.

Following the discovery, the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (Medac) conducted medical checks on its senior officers.

The Health Ministry later advised Medac's secretary-general Datuk Wan Suraya Wan Mohd Radzi and two other senior officers to be quarantined for 14 days.

 
 
 

The dinner at a hotel in KL was an appreciation event for the those leaving the ministry following the dissolution of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

The former deputy minister from Medac, Dr Hatta Ramli, who also attended the function, confirmed yesterday that he was tested for the coronavirus.

In a statement on Sunday, the Health Ministry said patient 26 had travelled to Shanghai in the middle of January.

He developed a fever and sore throat on Feb 27 before he was tested positive for coronavirus on Feb 29.

He has been admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital isolation ward.

Khazanah confirmed that one of its employees has been infected by the coronavirus.

Malaysia had announced on Sunday four new coronavirus cases in the country, bringing the total cases to 29. Of these, 15 were Chinese nationals, 11 were Malaysians and three were other nationalities.

To date, 22 patients have fully recovered and have been discharged, while seven are receiving treatment in several hospitals in the Klang Valley. They are in stable condition.