Health minister: Outcome of forensic tests on 12 Kelantan Orang Asli skeletons due today

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters after launching the ‘Kurangkan Gula, Hidup Sihat’ campaign in Subang Jaya July 25, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters after launching the ‘Kurangkan Gula, Hidup Sihat’ campaign in Subang Jaya July 25, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

SUBANG JAYA, July 25 — The forensic team examining the skeletons of 12 Orang Asli exhumed from Kampung Kuala Koh, Kelantan, will meet today to deliver a conclusion from their findings, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

The minister said this information will be used to supplement earlier discoveries about the mysterious deaths affecting the Batek Orang Asli tribe in the area.

“We have already revealed our findings of three deaths, and the other 12 exhumed, the post-mortem is now at its final stage.

“The forensic team will meet today to have an internal discussion and will make their conclusion. I will be informed,” said Dr Dzulkefly at a press conference after launching the Kurangkan Gula, Hidup Sihat campaign at the Giant Hypermarket here today.

Last Thursday, Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) president Dr Steven Chow revealed that laboratory tests on samples taken from the water around Kampung Kuala Koh found traces of contaminants and toxins.

In response, Dzulkefly said the ministry was already aware of arsenic contamination in the river but has not verified if this was the cause of the deaths or related.

Previously, the ministry said it was unable to confirm the cause of death for the 12 Orang Asli exhumed as their remains had decomposed to skeletons and did not hold enough human tissue with which to conduct the needed tests.

Since an epidemic reportedly broke out in the area from June 3 to July 5, there have been a total of 173 cases recorded involving the Batek tribe members in the area, with 147 cases including three deaths in Kelantan, 18 in Terengganu and eight in Pahang.

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

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