IPOH: The National Committee on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) will discuss today whether to impose travel restrictions to the United States and Britain following their inclusion in the list of countries affected by the outbreak.
Another matter which would be raised is whether travellers from both countries would be subjected to screening before they arrived in Malaysia, Health Minister Chua Jui Meng said when asked whether Malaysians would be banned from going to the two countries or whether tighter screening would be carried out on the Americans and British who come here.
The World Health Organisation has added the US and Britain to the list of countries affected by SARS.
This means there are now eight countries classified by the WHO as nations in which local transmission of SARS has taken place, Chua said.
However, since March 15, there was no evidence of an international spread of SARS from London and the areas in the US reported to the WHO, he said.
The local transmission involves those who have been in close, person-to-person contact with probable SARS cases. There is no proof that SARS had been spread from the US or London to people from other countries, Chua said after attending a briefing by state health director Dr Abdul Razak Kechik and Ipoh Hospital director Dr Ziaudin Ahamed Abdul Kareem on the treatment and control of the SARS spread at the hospital yesterday.
Chua said a briefing for all state executive councillors in charge of health would be held tomorrow, adding that a briefing for all senators would be held later that day.
There would be a joint briefing by the Education and Health ministries on Friday for the Private Colleges Association of Malaysia which would also be attended by student leaders of foreign countries studying here, he said.
He said private colleges and ambassadors who attended a Wisma Putra briefing several days ago had said that some of the foreign students wanted to return home because their parents asked them to do so.
The parents felt that Malaysia is no longer safe for their children to study because of certain reporting in the press.
This has become critical and we need to have a briefing very quickly for these foreign students so that they can convey the message that Malaysia is safe and there is no reason for them to discontinue their studies, he said.
Chua said the Cabinet decided two weeks ago that all suspected and probable SARS cases would be treated and monitored at the first class of the dedicated hospitals for free under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act.
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