Orang Asli did not die from chemical exposure, says Health Minister


PUTRAJAYA: The two Orang Asli from Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan died from an infection and not chemical exposure, says Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said they died from microorganism infection based on the autopsy and chest X-rays of the deceased. 

"We are still waiting for laboratory tests to determine the organisms," he said at a press conference after a town hall meeting with General Practitioners on Tuesday (June 11).

As of noon Tuesday, he said there were two new cases in the village, bringing the total number to 101. The figure includes four patients admitted at the intensive care unit (ICU) and the two deceased.

Dr Dzulkefly also said that the ministry was still waiting for the water analysis in the village and it would be ready in a day or two.

Deputy health director-general (public health) Dr Chong Chee Kheong said that the post-mortem of the two deceased Orang Asli revealed they died of pneumonia.

"Almost everyone in the community has been exposed to the pneumonia."

From the 130 Orang Asli out of the 185 screened, 101 had symptoms, Dr Chong said.

While pneumonia is a moderately serious disease, Orang Asli could die from it if they were malnourished and had delayed in seeking treatment, he added.

It was reported that the Bateq tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh were allegedly suffering from a mysterious disease which led to 14 deaths.

The victims were buried according to the customs of the tribe although police said they only received two reports on the deaths.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy was reported to have said Monday (June 10) that the two Orang Asli deaths were confirmed to have been due to lung infection, according to Bernama.