Westerdam cruise ship passenger diagnosed with Covid-19 in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, 16 Feb 2020:

Another positive Covid-19 case was reported yesterday, bringing the total number of cases in Malaysia to 22 so far.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the latest case involved an 83-year-old US citizen. The woman was one of the passengers on board cruise ship MS Westerdam who were denied entry at several Asian ports recently before finally being allowed to disembark in Cambodia on Feb 13.

He said all passengers and crew members on board the cruise liner had been allowed to return to their respective countries by the Cambodian government after being subjected to health screenings.

“A total of 145 passengers from that cruise ship took a flight to Malaysia on Feb 14 and of these, the woman and her husband were found to have symptoms as soon as they landed at KL International Airport (KLIA). They were then referred to the Sungai Buloh hospital for further examination.

“Screening tests were conducted by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and (the woman) was tested positive. The patient is in stable condition and is being treated at the hospital’s isolation ward,” he said in a statement last night.

The husband, aged 85 and also a US citizen, tested negative for the virus, Dr Noor Hisham said, adding that he is still undergoing treatment and observation at the Sungai Buloh hospital for his symptoms.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said there is no evidence that individuals who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection can be re-infected.

He said any individual who recovers from a viral infection will normally have immunity against that virus.

“It is feared that a re-infection can occur, but so far there is no evidence this can happen. Usually, after a viral infection it is rare to get a secondary infection by the same virus because we are protected by the immunity created.

“In China, for example, doctors use blood plasma of patients who have recovered (from Covid-19) to treat seriously ill people, but we need data to know whether it works or not.”

Dr Lee advised the public to avoid stigmatising those arriving from China or those having had contact with confirmed COVID-19 positive cases because anxiety over the matter will only interfere with daily life.

The Health Ministry has taken appropriate action including isolating those arriving from China for two weeks if they displayed any symptoms of the infection and if there are no symptoms, the risk of transmission of Covid-19 is very low.

“The ministry will also screen those in contact with Covid-19 patients to ensure that they do not infect anyone. When the (test) is negative, the risk of them being the cause of the disease is relatively low. So don’t be too scared and stigmatise those who come in contact with or who are returning from China.”

Meanwhile, the Singapore Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday confirmed five additional cases of Covid-19 infection in the republic, bringing the tally to 72.

In a statement, MoH said the new positive cases involved three Singapore citizens, one Bangladeshi national and one Chinese national – with all of them having no recent travel history to China.

The ministry said three of them were linked to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God church, one to the cluster at Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site and the other case was linked to a previous case.

MpH noted that a total of 18 cases have fully recovered from the infection and had been discharged from hospital.

Of the 54 confirmed cases who are still in hospital, the condition of most of them was reported stable or improving , while six are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

To date, five cases are linked to The Life Church and Missions Singapore at Paya Lebar Road, nine linked to the cluster associated with Yong Thai Hang at Cavan Road, three linked to a private business meeting held at Grand Hyatt Singapore, five to Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site and sixteen to the Grace Assembly of God.

In THAILAND, a medical personnel becomes the 34th confirmed case of COVID-19 in Thailand, said Disease Control Department director-general Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai.

He said the 35-year-old woman was detected positive for the virus after coming into contact with Covid-19 patients.

“She developed a fever and breathing difficulty. She was brought to Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute to be quarantined and later tested positive for Covid-19.

“We found out that she did not put on a proper protective gear to protect herself while dealing with infected patients,” he said in a daily briefing on Covid-19 here.

Suwanchai added another 24 medical personnel who had come into contact with her, however, were tested negative for the disease.

To date, 14 patients have fully recovered and discharged from hospitals, while the remaining 20 still undergoing treatment.

– Bernama