PENANG: Malaysia is safe from local transmission of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. There have been no cases so far of patients down with probable or suspected SARS from local contacts, said Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
All probable case patients in the country had either visited China or Singapore, he told reporters at the Penang Hospital yesterday.
At present only one probable SARS patient is still warded. The 54-year-old woman is said to be now in a stable condition at the Penang Hospital.
Another case in Penang previously categorised as “probable,” involving a 26-year-old man from Kulim, has been cleared from the list after he responded to antibiotic treatment.
There are, therefore, only five probable cases and not six as stated previously, according to Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican. Among the five cases, two had since died and two others have been discharged.
Two new suspected cases have been reported up to yesterday. One of them is a 26-year-old aircraft maintenance staff who works in Jurong, Singapore, who was admitted for fever and cough on April 19. The other patient, from Negri Sembilan, is a 30-year-old lorry driver who denied visiting the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Market in Singapore, which is now under quarantine.
Chua cautioned that although Malaysia was considered safe for now, nobody should be complacent.
“All parties, including the public, must follow the guidelines imposed by the ministry and the National Committee on SARS.
“All steps must be observed stringently to protect hospital staff, other patients and visitors.
“If there is even a 1% slip up, there would be a risk of transmission in the hospital setting,” he warned.
“We need to reaffirm our advice not to visit affected countries because one would only be putting his family members, friends and colleagues at risk (when he returns home),” said Chua.
Dr Ismail said of the 17 patients isolated as of 6pm on Monday, eight were non-SARS cases, seven suspected cases and two probable cases.
The total number of cases notified in Malaysia up to 6pm on April 18 was 244, he said, adding there were 3,861 SARS cases with 217 deaths worldwide.
In KUANTAN, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob Adnan advised the media to be careful when reporting about the death of a 20-year-old farmer in Cameron Highlands.
“The man had died of heart failure and not SARS,” he said.