Deputy health minister: Covid-19 risks low as all tourists, including from China, screened

Opalyn Mok


People wearing face masks are pictured outside Pavilion Kuala Lumpur February 10, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 21 — Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has reassured the public that strict screening at the exit points of China and entry points in Malaysia have ensured that Chinese tourists in the country have low risk of spreading the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) here.

He pointed out today that there was a lockdown on the worse-hit provinces in China, so residents from there would not be able to leave the country.

“Those from other provinces, China has a strict screening procedure at the exit points and we screen all our entry points so those with any symptoms will be quarantined,” he said.

He said there is very low possibility of those from China, who did not have any symptoms, to spread the Covid-19 here.

He was responding a question on whether a local businessman will be screened as he had met with some Chinese businessmen here and was worried that he could be infected with Covid-19 which subsequently led to him being involved in an accident while intoxicated.

“He was intoxicated so it was an entirely different issue. As for his worry about contracting the virus, this has become a phobia, there should not be any worry if you’ve come into contact with someone from China here,” he said.

He stressed that infectivity is low if there are no symptoms at all.

“Secondly, fatality rates for a healthy person is very low so even if infected, on average, 98 per cen can recover from it,” he said.

He said there was a video conference with specialists in China, Korea and Japan yesterday which he attended to discuss Covid-19.

“The average fatality rate is only two per cent and according to age groups, the rate is 0.2 per cen for those below 30 years of age, 3.6 per cent for those above 60 years of age and almost 15 per cent for those above 80 years,” he said.

He said only those with other existing conditions such as lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension are at higher risks.

Dr Lee also said that China has reported that out of its 24 provinces, 12 provinces have recorded zero new cases while the remaining provinces are recording less cases daily.

In Malaysia, out of the 22 cases, a total 17 cases were discharged with only five remaining in hospitals.

Dr Lee said the five are in stable condition.

He said the ministry will continue with its strict screening activities to prevent the virus from being spread within the country.

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