Tue, 20 May 2003

MM Focus: SARS Alert: ‘Man could not
have caught it in Malaysia’

THE Health Ministry is confident that a 39-year-old Malaysian working as a surveyor in Singapore, diagnosed as being infected with SARS, could not have contracted the disease in Malaysia.
Its deputy director-general, Dr Ismail Merican, said the surveyor who is also a Singapore permanent resident, had not fallen sick while on visits to Johor Baru on May 1 and May 5.
He stressed that there was also no report of any local transmission of SARS in Johor, during or after the period.
“If he had contracted SARS (while) in Malaysia, we would already have got it (the notification on SARS case from Johor) now,” he said at the daily SARS briefing.
Dr Ismail said this yesterday, while commenting on a report that a surveyor was diagnosed as being infected by SARS in Singapore.
It dashed the island republic’s plan to be struck of the World Health Organisation’s list of SARS-affected countries.
It had gone 20 days, without any report of new cases.
Singapore Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang identified the patient as Lee Chong Kian who was warded at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital – the SARS-designated treatment centre – on May 11 after coming down with fever, a symptom of SARS.
Lee is now in critical condition at its intensive care unit.
On the SARS situation up to 6pm yesterday, Dr Ismail said that six notifications with one suspected SARS case and five non-SARS cases were reported to the Ministry’s SARS operations room.
There were no new probable SARS cases reported last Sunday.
Dr Ismail said that the suspected SARS case involved a 28-year-old Singaporean tourist who went to Penang on May 16.
Upon arrival at a hotel on the island, he felt sick and was admitted to the Penang Hospital the following day.
“Because he was having fever and he had come from Singapore, he has been categorised as a suspected case,” added Dr Ismail.