On Tuesday (4 February), the Malaysian health authorities announced its first citizen to be infected with the deadly coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 10.
It appears that the 41-year-old Malaysian man from Selangor visited Singapore from 16 to 23 January to attend a meeting with colleagues from China. One of his colleagues was from Wuhan – the city at the centre of the outbreak.
“He returned to Malaysia on 23 Jan, and on 29 Jan he received treatment at a private hospital because of fever and cough,” said Malaysia’s Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad in a press conference.
On 2 Feb, he was referred to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, just outside of Kuala Lumpur, and was admitted in an isolation ward. Following tests, he was confirmed positive for the virus on Monday.
The authorities also said on Tuesday that the other new case in the country is of a Chinese national from Wuhan who has been in Malaysia since 18 January.
The 63-year-old man had fever on 23 Jan and sought outpatient treatment at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
Following that, he was placed under home surveillance for 14 days, before being admitted into Kuala Lumpur Hospital on 2 Feb after experiencing persistent fever.
On 3 Feb, his test results showed positive for the virus.
With the two added new cases, Malaysia has now 10 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus. Nine of the infected individuals are China citizens.
Speaking of the infected Malaysian, Dr Dzulkefly noted that his Ministry is already in touch with its Singapore counterpart to begin contact tracing.
As of 4 February, the virus has killed 425 people and infected close to 20,000 individuals, nearly all of them in Hubei, and spread to two dozen countries since it emerged in December 2019 at a market that sold wild animals in the city.
The number of infections has exceeded the total reported in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003.
On Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also declared the outbreak in China a global public health emergency, and noted that there are chances for the virus to spread to countries that lack the capabilities to deal with it.