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New Straits Times
Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

Malaysia

MERS under control, says Malaysia's health minister

New Straits Times | Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR - The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak that hit the country and claimed its first victim last week is under control, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

He said all suspects, including 64 villagers from Kampung Bintang, Johor, tested negative for the disease.

However, he said, the ministry would continue to monitor the 18 passengers who travelled with the victim on a Turkish Airways flight.

"We have completed the special screening to detect the virus among the flight passengers, as well as in the village, where the first Malaysian victim who succumbed to the virus came from. All of them are clear of the disease.

"However, we will continue to monitor the others on the flight for another two weeks as they had made close contact with the victim," he said here yesterday.

Malaysia recorded its first death related to MERS after a 54-year-old man contracted the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) while performing umrah in Mecca.

The victim from Johor, who returned to Malaysia from Jeddah on March 29, developed a fever and respiratory problems and was warded at Sultanah Nora Ismail Hospital in Batu Bahat on April 10. He died three days later.

Dr Subramaniam said this was the first case in Malaysia and the ministry had taken it seriously to prevent the disease from spreading.

On the cause of the disease, he said there was a high possibility the victim had contracted the virus from camels during his visit to the Middle East.

"Evidence of MERS-CoV has been found in camels, implicating the animals as a source of human infections but the link has not been conclusive.

"I urge those who want to travel to the Middle East to take precautionary measures to avoid being infected by MERS-CoV."

The World Health Organisation has recorded 238 cases and 92 deaths related to MERS-CoV globally.

Dr Subramaniam said those returning to Malaysia from the Middle East would be subjected to stringent checks at airports.

 

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