Deputy minister: Post-mortem on Kuala Koh Orang Asli foiled by decomposition

File photo showing medical personnel conducting health checks on members of the Batek tribe at the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang June 11, 2019. On Saturday, the Health Ministry said the results of the post-mortem tests on the skeletons of the 12 Orang Asli Batek tribe were inconclusive. — Bernama pic
File photo showing medical personnel conducting health checks on members of the Batek tribe at the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang June 11, 2019. On Saturday, the Health Ministry said the results of the post-mortem tests on the skeletons of the 12 Orang Asli Batek tribe were inconclusive. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Authorities were unable to confirm the cause of 12 Orang Asli deaths at Kuala Koh in Gua Musang, Kelantan, as their remains have been reduced to bones, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said today.

He said the lack of tissue samples made it difficult to conduct the medical tests necessary to find out why they died.

“It was more difficult [to do the post-mortem tests] as there is not much human tissue left, apart from the bones. It made conformation on the cause of death more difficult in this case.

“[The examination] is not unusually long because other than the post-mortem report, it involves physical examination of the body and other test, including chemical tests for chemical agent and so on. The toxicology tests take a while,” Dr Lee told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby here today.

“But, more importantly, we want to make sure there is no criminal element in the deaths of these 12 Orang Asli.”

On Saturday, the Health Ministry said the results of the post-mortem tests on the skeletons of the 12 Orang Asli Batek tribe were inconclusive.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said that the tests were conducted on June 17 and 18.

He said that as of Friday, the number of confirmed deaths from measles through laboratory testing remained at three cases, with no new deaths reported.

Since the epidemic that reported broke out from June 3 until July 5, there have been a total of 173 cases recorded, with 147 cases including three deaths in Kelantan, 18 in Terengganu and eight in Pahang (eight cases).

Of the total number, 82 cases were confirmed through laboratory tests to be measles.

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