Malaysia's health ministry steps up monitoring at entry points in Johor following Singapore Zika case

A poster at a lift lobby informing residents of the first case of locally transmitted Zika virus in Singapore.
A poster at a lift lobby informing residents of the first case of locally transmitted Zika virus in Singapore. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's health ministry has increased monitoring at the two main entry points to Johor, a day after Singapore reported its first locally-transmitted case of the Zika virus.

In a statement released on Sunday (Aug 28), health director general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah referred to the case of the 47-year-old Malaysian woman in Singapore who had been diagnosed with the deadly virus, despite not having visited any of the Zika-affected countries.

Dr Noor Hisham also noted that Singapore authorities had found three other suspected Zika cases in the same area.

In response to the report, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysian health authorities are in close contact with Singapore's health ministry.

"We are in close contact with the Singapore Health Ministry to better understand this situation and get updated information on the local spread of the virus. This is to ensure that all prevention and containment methods can be carried out," he said.

Malaysia is vulnerable to the infection given that Aedes mosquitoes could carry the virus, he said. As such, the health ministry has stepped up monitoring at entry points in Johor.

"Therefore, we have increased the monitoring and have placed paramedics at the two main entrances to ensure that the necessary measures can be carried out on visitors who show signs of being infected by the Zika virus," he said.

He added that the ministry has this year scanned over two million visitors entering Malaysia from countries affected by Zika, and found no cases of infection.

"Visitors from the affected countries were also given a Health Alert Card as a precautionary measure. We have also examined over 784 blood samples of those showing an active possibility of the infection and found that the results were all negative for the virus," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham further urged health practitioners who come across possible signs of the virus to report them immediately, adding that the general public should also be vigilant.