Safety precautions: Kampung Bintang residents undergoing screening tests at the Kompleks Penghulu for MERS-CoV.
BATU PAHAT: Life goes on as usual in Kampung Bintang, Peserai, here despite 64 villagers being placed under a week-long house observation after showing symptoms of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Days after a 54-year-old man from the village died of the infection, self-employed Mustafa Ismail, 63, said most residents were still going around without their masks on “as if nothing had happened”.
“The only difference is that we see reporters and TV stations coming to our village to interview the residents,” he said.
Mustafa, whose home is about 200m from the deceased’s house, said he had not attended the man’s funeral on Sunday as he was away in Kota Tinggi with his family.
The deceased, who was also a diabetic, had succumbed to the infection upon returning from Mecca on March 29 after performing his umrah.
He was admitted to the Hospital Sultanah Nora Ismail following complaints of fever, cough and breathing difficulties and died on Sunday.
Juriah Md Said, 73, said her children, who are staying elsewhere, had immediately called her following news of the death.
“I told them not to be worried. The Health Department has set up a screening centre in the village,” she said, adding that a van had been making two rounds daily in the village, urging those suffering from cough, flu, sore throat or breathing difficulties to go for screening.
Johor Health and Environment executive committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said villagers put under observation were not allowed to leave their homes or receive visitors.
“If they have to leave their homes, they must put on their masks but I really advise them not to go out unless it’s urgent,” he said.
Should there be another fatality from MERS-CoV, there would be screening in Senai Airport for passengers returning from umrah, as well as at the Causeway and the Second Link for those coming back via Singapore, he added.
In Putrajaya, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the villagers were placed under house observation and not quarantined.
Quarantine, he said, connoted isolation or observation, including at an infectious diseases hospital and any place gazetted by the health minister as a quarantine station under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.
Instead, the MERS-CoV prevention and control measures merely referred to a health monitoring process at home, said Dr Noor Hisham, adding that 17 out of the 27 samples taken from those with close contact with the deceased had so far tested negative.