Health minister: Results of post-mortems on two Batek Orang Asli rule out chemical poisoning

Hazmat personnel from the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department collect air samples at the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang June 11, 2019. — Bernama pic
Hazmat personnel from the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department collect air samples at the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang June 11, 2019. — Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA, June 11 — The Health Ministry today ruled out chemical infection as the cause of death for several Batek Orang Asli in Gua Musang.

Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said X-rays of the chests of the victims during critical stages of the disease suggested the infection was caused by microorganisms.

“Essentially, it is not chemical. The acute stage showed it was due to microorganisms.

“[But] we do not know whether it is primarily viral or bacterial. We are now awaiting the tests from PCR [polymerase chain reaction] on what was the offending microorganism,” he told a press conference here today.

PCR is an extensive laboratory test to determine the root cause and diagnosis of an infected person.

Dzulkefly said police have limited the entrance of outsiders into the village area and that only allowed individuals involved in the case to enter as he said the condition is highly infectious.

He said the movement of people entering and exiting the area have to be monitored and said that while it was not confirmed, he said the disease was mostly likely a viral respiratory infection.

As of noon today, Dzulkefly said there are a total of 101 recorded cases, which included two confirmed deaths.

He said two more patients have been transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Kuala Krai Hospital, which has brought a total of three patients under the ICU at the said hospital.

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