JAKARTA: Hospitals and passenger transport hubs throughout southeast Asia have been put on full alert in a bid to prevent the spread of a killer new Chinese virus.
With lockdown measures being put in place throughout China’s Hubei province and its regional capital Wuhan, where coronavirus first emerged, and first infections already starting to be reported in Asia, authorities in countries including Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are preparing to deal with an outbreak.
Globally, there are more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus, which has so far killed 17 people in China, and it has begun spreading abroad.
There was a false alarm on Thursday in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, when an employee in a building housing Chinese tech giant Huawei was reported ill with symptoms similar to the virus. Indonesia’s Minister of Health Terawan Agus Putranto later told journalists that the worker had been “diagnosed as having a sore throat.”
However, he said the government was taking no chances and had installed thermal scanners at international airports and seaports to check visitors arriving from China and other countries where cases had been confirmed.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that a case of imported coronavirus had been identified in the city state.
“The case is a 66-year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan. 20,” a ministry statement said, adding that the patient was being treated in an isolation room at the Singapore general hospital and was in a stable condition.
Health officials also revealed that they had received notification of a female Chinese national, also from Wuhan, who had preliminarily tested positive for the virus. “Both cases were immediately isolated upon presenting to the respective hospitals with clinical symptoms,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that it had designated 26 hospitals to screen potential cases and handle any outbreak.
Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Malaysian ministry’s director general of health, said the national Crisis Preparedness and Response Center (CPRC) had received reports of four cases. Three of them had already tested negative and the other person, admitted to a hospital in Sabah state on Wednesday, was in a stable condition, added Abdullah.
An Indonesian Ministry of Health spokeswoman told Arab News that there were around 30 inbound flights from China to Indonesia each day, carrying between 4,500 and 6,000 passengers.
“The health ministry is in cooperation with related agencies to prepare a simulation, including installing 195 thermal scanners in all 135 ports of entry, by air, sea, and land. We are on standby around the clock,” she said.