KOTA KINABALU: As of Tuesday (Jan 28), 25 cases involving China nationals who were under surveillance for suspected coronavirus have all tested negative, says the Sabah Health Department.
State Health director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi said on Thursday (Jan 30) that the tourists who came in via Kota Kinabalu were referred to the department by their hotels or at entry points to the state.
On a viral posting in Facebook about a patient suspected with the virus being treated in Tawau district Wednesday (Jan 29), Rundi said as of now they were still investigating.
“Out of the 25 patients under investigation (PUIs), only nine were admitted and 16 received outpatient treatment - but none of them tested positive (with the virus).
“We hope the general public will refer to the department to clarify speculation of the coronavirus spreading in Sabah, instead of resorting to social media, ” she told reporters after launching the "Sabah Healthline" WhatsApp hotline on Thursday.
Meanwhile, on the 71-year-old China national who was diagnosed as a confirmed coronavirus victim after landing in Tianjin, China, state Health and People’s Well-Being Minister Datuk Frankie Poon said all signs indicated that the illness might only have developed after the man left the country as screenings in Kota Kinabalu did not detect anything.
The man was in Sabah from Jan 20 to Jan 25.
“We previously had two level of screenings but since no more Wuhan flights are directly coming to Sabah, we had mantained one level of screening for all international flights coming in, ” Poon explained, adding that the screenings have been successful so far as no cases were found in Sabah.
Rundi added that their work was made easier as the patient visited via a tour agent and they were able to take the necessary steps by investigating and continuing to monitor the tour group in contact with him.
“Usually, if it has infected a lot of people, we would see the signs by now... We will remain alert and keep the group under surveillance.
“We will continue to engage more tour operators and hotels and they have been helpful and showed awareness by referring clients with symptoms to us, ” she said, adding that those who travelled to China recently and had contact with the sick there can also refer themselves on their own to the nearest clinic.
Poon also said the public can forward inquiries, complaints, recommendations and even appreciation to health staff to the new WhatsApp hotline at 019-8602929.
“We hope to handle small- and medium-scale complaints with this platform, but especially now, when we have issues such as the coronavirus, we also want to give the best information to the public. We want to be on top of things, ” he added.
Rundi said a pilot programme was done last year and the messaging hotline turned out to be beneficial.
“This does not take away from other channels, we just want to add another element. The public can still continue to communicate with the department via channels such as our official website, email, SisPAA (Public Complaint Management System) as well as our Facebook page, ” she said.
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