PUTRAJAYA, 14 Feb 2020:
Four Covid-19 patients have fully recovered, bringing to seven the number of people having been successfully treated in Malaysia.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the four were discharged from hospital today.
She said they were the first, second, third and fifth cases among 19 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus disease since the infection was first reported on Jan 25.
“They were all Chinese nationals, comprising two women aged 66 and 36, as well as two boys aged 11 and two,” she told a press conference after chairing a special National Disaster Management Committee meeting on Covid-19 here today.
At present, Dr Wan Azizah said the cumulative cases of Covid-19 in Malaysia remained at 19, including six Malaysians.
Meanwhile, she said all who have been quarantined at the Surveillance Centre at Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, are doing well.
She said if they are tested negative in the final screening for Covid-19, they too will be allowed home at the conclusion of the 14-day quarantine on Feb 18.
The Cabinet has also asked the Home Ministry to give leeway to face mask producers to hire more foreign workers to ramp up production in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, said Dr Wan Azizah.
She said the matter will be handled by the Home and Human Resources ministries very soon.
Dr Wan Azizah explained that before the new coronavirus outbreak, face masks were only used among healthcare personnel but demand skyrocketed followed the spread of Covid-19.
“Face mask producers told us that they need to operate round the clock (three shifts) to ramp up production.
“However, there will be still control on intake of foreign workers because we do not want a surge (of foreign workers) in the country,”
Dr Wan Azizah said steps to supervise supply and pricing of face masks in the market had been taken to prevent purchase in bulk to be brought out of the country.
Directives had also been issued to the state headquarters and branches of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to ensure sellers exercise self-control and do not sell in bulk to customers, she said.
“There are quotas for sale of face masks so that there is adequate supply in the country and to prevent parties buying in bulk to be sent overseas.”
In a related matter, Dr Wan Azizah said Malaysia would not allow foreign ships to dock in the country unless they share important information required by the Malaysian authorities.
She said the Malaysian Immigration Department had reported attempts/application to dock from two cruise ships from Hong Kong namely Westerdam and Sapphire Princess.
However, she said Westerdam with 1,000 passengers on board – which docked in Hong Kong before going to Taiwan on Feb 1 – had initially stated its intention to dock in Malaysia but was given permission to do so in Cambodia yesterday (Feb 13) whereas Sapphire Princess safely docked in Singapore.
Commenting on the drastic rise in Covid-19 cases in China, she said it was because of a change in definition for positive Covid-19 cases in Hubei province, the worst-hit area of the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
“The latest is that any patient in Hubei showing all Covid-19 symptoms but have not been confirmed positive through laboratory tests are categorised as positive cases (clinically diagnosed cases).”
However, she underscored that according to the World Health Organisation, there was no drastic rise in the number of positive Covid-19 cases outside China.
She explained that Malaysia was not following Hubei in defining Covid-19 cases.
“In Malaysia, the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) from early on has been ready (to conduct laboratory tests.”
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MoH) today confirmed nine additional Covid-19 cases in the city-state, bringing the tally to 67.
MoH said of the new cases, six are linked to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God church and one is a family member to two previous cases related to DBS Asia Central at Marina Bay Financial Centre.
All the nine cases involved Singapore citizens with no recent travel history to China, it said in a statement here.
One of the new cases involved a 61-year-old male who works at a private hospital.
He is currently warded at an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), said the ministry.
MoH noted he did not go to work since the onset of symptoms on Feb 7 and has no known interactions with past cases.
Updating on the condition of confirmed cases, MoH said to date, two more cases have fully recovered, making the total to 17 cases that have been discharged from hospital.
Of the 50 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, most are stable or improving while six are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, it said.