PUTRAJAYA: The health of Kampung Bintang residents will be further monitored for another two weeks following the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV)-related death involving a man from Batu Pahat, Johor.
The move was a precautionary measure to ensure the disease did not spread among the villagers even though the incubation period of two weeks had passed, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
The 54-year-old Malaysian victim was the first in the country to succumb to MERS-CoV. He had returned to Malaysia on March 29 after performing the umrah but died on April 13 after developing fever and respiratory complications.
“There is no treatment for the disease even though the scientific community believes there could be a correlation between the MERS-CoV and camels, which were suspected to be the source of infection.
“Although it is not 100% proven, we advise people to avoid visiting camel farms and to take precautionary measures, including wearing masks, washing hands frequently and staying away from people who have coughs,” Dr Subramaniam told reporters here yesterday.
The MERS-CoV was first detected in the Middle East in 2012 and the World Health Organisation has since recorded 238 cases of the disease and 92 deaths related to the virus globally.
Meanwhile, on consumer complaints regarding private hospital charges, Dr Subramaniam reiterated that only professional fees were regulated under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act.
All other costs, such as room charges, blood tests and X-ray examinations, are determined by market forces and not controlled under the law.
“Consumers thus have a role to play as much as the service provider.
“While we have a role in controlling professional fees, it is good for health consumers to be aware that the services offered are in line with the fees charged.
“Based on consumer complaints, the ministry can be the middlemen to investigate and advise them (private hospitals), even though we don’t have the power to take action against them except in cases of overcharging in doctor’s fees,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam was referring to an amendment to the 13th Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which was published in the federal gazette on Dec 16 last year.
The Act provides for the maximum chargeable fees for registered medical and dental practitioners in private hospitals in terms of professional fees, such as consultation and performance of procedures.