Authorities quarantine Orang Asli village in Kelantan after mysterious deaths

Deputy Minister of Water, Land Natural Resources Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji (left) collects water samples at Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang June 9, 2019. — Bernama pic
Deputy Minister of Water, Land Natural Resources Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji (left) collects water samples at Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang June 9, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — The government has sequestered an Orang Asli village in Kelantan where at least two residents have died of an undetermined illness.

In a press conference today, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said this was to facilitate investigations and prevent the possibility of disease outbreaks.

Medical investigations are still ongoing and the exact reason for the deaths is still unknown, the minister added.

 “We don’t want them to enter and, if there is a need, must be complete with the personal protection equipment, the PPE, and we don’t encourage people to visit. This is not the time,” he told reporters at the press conference in the Gua Musang Hospital in Kelantan.

He said that the infected area is within a three-kilometre radius in Kuala Koh.

The minister said that of 99 of the villagers who affected (including two who died) were, outpatient treatment was rendered to 47 people, while 49 others were warded.

Kelantan State Health Department director Dr Zaini Hussinalo echoed Dzulkefly’s concern.

“So if we see the pattern of this infection, it focuses more on respiratory infection, and if we look at it, it spreads fast. So that’s why in this situation, we don’t want it to spread further, so we want to limit those places from any movements, so they are not exposed to respiratory infection.

“Even our officers who want to enter the area, we stress to them to wear their equipment; PPE to ensure they are not infected and do not infect others.

‘So if you are asking if that area is dangerous, now, we feel the need to limit (people’s) movement in that area,” Dr Zaini said.

The Kelantan State Health Department yesterday said that it has discovered 29 cases of respiratory complications among the Batek tribe in Kuala Goh, in Gua Musang Kelantan.

In a press statement Dr Zaini said that the patients include babies, children and adults; all were brought to Aring and Chiku 3 Health Clinics for medical treatment.

Test results from Gua Musang and Kuala Krai Hospitals have ruled out tuberculosis but they are still waiting for the other test results.

Commenting on the viral claim that 13 Orang Asli died due to respiratory complications, the Health Department said it could only confirm two deaths.

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