Singapore

Malaysia confirms first citizen to be infected by coronavirus

Man, 42, was in Singapore for meeting with Chinese colleagues last month, MOH working to identify those who had close contact with him

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has started epidemiological investigations and contact tracing to identify individuals who had close contact with a Malaysian who is believed to have been infected with the coronavirus in Singapore.

The 42-year-old man was in Singapore from Jan 16 to 23 for a business meeting at the Grand Hyatt Singapore in Scotts Road.

Among his colleagues at the meeting were Chinese nationals, including one from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Malaysian health authorities said yesterday that the Selangor man, who had no recent travel history in China, is the country's first citizen to be infected with the virus.

Malaysia's Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told a press conference yesterday: "He returned to Malaysia on Jan 23, and on Jan 29, he received treatment at a private hospital because of fever and cough."

He was referred to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, a coronavirus referral centre located on the edge of Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday and was admitted to an isolation ward.

He was confirmed to have the virus on Monday.

Dr Dzulkefly said the patient is in a stable condition in hospital, and that his family members are being monitored.

The Grand Hyatt yesterday said it had taken steps to safeguard the safety and well-being of its guests after being informed of the case by MOH.

During a press conference yesterday on the six new confirmed cases here, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services at MOH, said the health authorities on both sides of the Causeway have been co-operating and sharing information on the virus outbreak.

RISK OF EXPOSURE

Noting the risk of exposure to the Malaysian patient was some time ago, he said it was possible that many of the people at the meeting may no longer be in Singapore.

Malaysia's nine other confirmed cases are Chinese nationals from Wuhan. Among them was a new case announced yesterday.

The man from Wuhan, who had been in Malaysia since Jan 18, was placed under home surveillance for 14 days after seeking treatment for fever at a private hospital.

When his fever persisted, he was admitted to Kuala Lumpur Hospital on Sunday, and tested positive for the virus the next day.

Yesterday, 133 Malaysian passengers and crew arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after being airlifted from Hubei province in China.

They underwent decontamination and health screening processes at the airport before they were taken to a monitoring centre for 14 days.

Those with symptoms will be hospitalised immediately. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID SUN

MEDICAL & HEALTH