Singapore, Malaysia to form joint working group to curb COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak

Officers conducting thermal scanning on travellers at the Johor Baru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex. Singapore and Malaysia will set up a joint working group to strengthen cooperation in tackling the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. - ST/ANN

SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore and Malaysia will set up a joint working group to strengthen cooperation in tackling the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

The authorities from both countries announced the working group on Monday after a video conference meeting between Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and his Malaysian counterpart, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

The ministers had agreed that it is important for both countries to continue working closely together on the outbreak, especially given the high volume of travel between Singapore and Malaysia, Singapore's Ministry of Health said in a statement.

"Since the start of the outbreak, both countries have been in close touch with one another, including expeditiously sharing information on cross-border cases," it added.

"The cooperation would not have been possible without the strong collaboration and network built up over the years."

Separately, Dr Dzulkefly said at a news conference in Putrajaya: "We share the same Causeway, there are hundreds of people travelling across each day for reasons of family, business and leisure, so all the more why we should strengthen and enhance our cooperation managing this coronavirus outbreak."

Senior health officials from both sides will work over the next few days to determine the composition and terms of reference of the group.

Singapore has nominated Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min as a co-chair.

During the video conference, Mr Gan and Dr Dzulkefly also updated each other on the situation in the respective countries, and discussed public health measures, epidemiological findings and clinical management of the disease.

Malaysia has identified 18 cases of the coronavirus so far, while Singapore has seen 47 cases.

Chinese nationals make up 12 of the cases in Malaysia. The remaining six are Malaysians.

Malaysia's first recorded coronavirus patients were China tourists who had entered the country via Johor Baru from Singapore, while Malaysia's first local patient had attended a conference in Singapore.

Malaysia's Sarawak state on Monday announced that those who had recently visited Singapore must undergo an immediate self-imposed 14-day home quarantine.

But Sarawak's state disaster management committee yesterday revised its guidelines and said visitors from Singapore would not need to self-quarantine, but only take precautionary measures such as avoiding public places and practising good hygiene. - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

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