Conference in Sabah postponed due to SARS scare


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 06 Apr 2003

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is beginning to feel the impact of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) with organisers of a conference involving some 1,000 delegates at a resort here postponing the event for at least two months. 

The conference, being organised by Hong Kong-based global marketing firm V-Team International Ltd, was supposed to be held from today to April 11 at the Magellan Sutera Resort. 

“We are deferring the conference not because of the SARS situation in Malaysia but rather due to the World Health Organisation (WHO) advisory against travel, in particular to Hong Kong and Guangdong in China,” V-Team general manager Kuna Senathirajah told reporters yesterday. 

Stressing that V-Team considered Malaysia, particularly Sabah, a safe destination, Kuna said the company made the “difficult” decision of postponing the conference as the company’s prime concern was the health and safety of the delegates. 

He said the company had been expecting some 1,000 participants from the United States, Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia. 

In Labuan, a navy patrol vessel intercepted in Malaysian waters, a mainland China fishing vessel and had its five crewmen quarantined while they were screened for SARS. 

Malaysian naval vessel KD Todak commanding officer Lt Commander Mohd Kindil Mohd Akim said the vessel was among three boats spotted at Ubi reef at the South China Sea on Thursday. 

He said KD Todak navy personnel managed to stop one of the vessels while the other two fled to open sea. The detained fishing vessel was believed to be from Hainan in China. 

In Ipoh, Perak Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ho Cheng Wang urged the Health Ministry to carry out more awareness campaign on SARS.  

He said efforts to check on the spread of the disease was mainly concentrated on certain places such as airports and immigration departments and on those who travelled. 

The ministry should ensure a widespread campaign so that the public would not be unnecessarily worried over the outbreak, he told reporters after handing out pamphlets on SARS to representatives of several non-government organisations and community leaders at Chin Woo building yesterday.  

Meanwhile, a caretaker of the 100-year-old Chinese Cemetery at Jalan Raja di-Hilir, Khoo Ah Lein, said the SARS outbreak had caused this year’s Qing Ming festival to record a drop in the number of people from Singapore.  

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