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Business travel update: How Malaysia is tackling the Wuhan virus

Yesterday, Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) issued further updates on how the country is tackling the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

As of last evening, the ministry reported three new cases of the virus, bringing up the total number of cases to seven. Of these seven cases, three were previously reported as 2019-nCoV Patient-Under Investigation (PUI) cases, while four were previously in close contact with affected parties. All seven positive cases are Chinese citizens.

In line with Malaysia's continued efforts towards combating the virus, the ministry has detailed the following actions being taken:

Since 4 January 2020, the MOH has increased its screening of all travellers (passengers and crew) from China, at all 64 international entry points nationwide (pintu masuk, or PMA) - international airports, seaports, and land entrances.

The screening will be done through the following approaches:

  • Using a thermal scanner. Any traveller with a fever will be checked by a paramedic, to confirm the fever, and they will also be checked for their travel history to China in the two weeks before arriving in Malaysia. Travellers who meet the PUI criteria will be referred to appointed hospitals for immediate treatment.
    • Travellers who do not meet the PUI criteria will be given a Home Assessment Tool and placed under home quarantine for 14 days. Those with coughs but no fever will be handed face masks to help prevent the spread of any sickness.
    • Travellers with no symptoms of the virus will be issued a Health Alert Card, and advised to seek immediate treatment if they have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing with 14 days of arrival. Should that happen, they should bring the card along with them and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Collaboration with the Immigration Department of Malaysia. Any traveller from China will be directed to get further examination by the health personnel stationed at the various PMAs.
  • Apart from the above, the MOH has also urged travellers arriving from China to declare themselves at the PMAS' health checkpoints.
  • Members of the MOH will also conduct random checks on Malaysian citizens, using autogates. Additionally, the ministry also calls on Malaysian citizens to volunteer for health checks at the various PMAs.
In light of the above updates, it is important for employers to pay extra attention to their employees' health, and to reinforce the necessary health measures employees should take in order to protect themselves and those around them from getting affected.

If business travel to and fro China is needed, do make it a point to check the ministry's website for regular updates on the situation, and ensure the employee's health is monitored closely in the 14 days following the travel.

[ALSO READ: What you need to know about the Wuhan virus in Malaysia

In further efforts, the Airport Health Office has partnered with Malaysia Airport Berhad and the Malaysian Aviation Authority to divert all aircraft from China to the specified gates, to prevent contact between Chinese passengers and passengers from other destinations.

Fever screening using a thermal scanner will be performed at the gate, and those suspected of PUI will be referred to the hospital via a special route, to avoid exposure to other passengers.

At the port, all ship from China will be given quarantine status until MOH members carry out inspections. Loading and unloading activities of the crew and  passengers will only be allowed if the inspection finds that all passengers and crew are healthy, and that the ship's sanitation documents are still valid.

Additionally, airline operators have also been instructed that in the event of passengers having symptoms of the virus, health personnel at the PMA should be notified to await the arrival of the aircraft at the specified gate. When the plane arrives at the identified gate, the health team will handle the situation moving forward, while other passengers are evacuated.

Note: This article does not constitute medical advice. 

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