Mahathir: Coronavirus situation in Malaysia not critical

KLANG (Bernama) – The situation of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Malaysia has not reached critical stage, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“At this moment it is not yet critical to the point where we need to stop tourism for example. We have to assess when is the critical stage. But we will keep on checking tourists, whenever there are some indications that they might be infected,” he told the media after attending the Chinese New Year (CNY) 2020 open house.

He said most countries are taking some action because this is something new and serious.

“The manifestations of the disease are difficult to detect. This is a question of people being able to travel and they travel very fast. Before you can detect a person who is sick, he has already arrived at the destination. We have to accept that complete control is not possible,” he said.

The open house hosted by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCCI) was also attended by several Cabinet ministers.

Dr Mahathir said for now, the government had no plans to stop tourists from Wuhan, China from coming into Malaysia.

Asked if the government plans to quarantine all tourists from China and other affected countries upon their arrival in the country, the prime minister said that the move was not viable as the number of Chinese tourists coming into the country can reach up to two million.

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at a festive gathering in Klang, Malaysia. PHOTO: BERNAMA

“The number of Chinese tourists can reach up to two million. Where are we supposed to place them? So, whoever is symptomatic, even just a little bit, will be quarantined. You can send them back to China but in the process of sending them back, they will come into contact with other people. It is better to quarantine them first until they show no signs, then we can send them back,” he said

Dr Mahathir said it is much easier for people with other ailments to get infected with this new virus, which is why it is imperative for the government to work out a system to isolate those infected quickly.

“We are also still not sure about the treatment. At the moment it is prevention, not treatment. And prevention is mainly wearing masks and staying away from people who are suspected of having the disease,” he added.

He also advised Malaysians in China and countries affected by the virus to take appropriate action by wearing a face mask to avoid infection.

“They will be checked to ensure they are not infected before coming back into the country,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the Chinese government was taking a stern action by isolating those infected by the disease in Wuhan and prevent them from travelling.

“The China government has also quarantined the whole population of 11 million people (in Wuhan), this is a drastic action and it shows the determination of the China government to control the disease,” he said. So far, four confirmed cases of coronavirus have been detected in the country.