The Star, May 11, 1999

12 warded in Kulai, Johore

Pig farm workers being monitored

JOHOR BARU: Twelve people have been warded in Kulai Hospital for observation as a precaution against the Nipah virus.

Hospital director Dr Abdul Rahim Rahman said the 12 came to the hospital on Sunday afternoon and would be placed in a special ward for two weeks.

Among them, he said, were several orang asli while the others were family members of owners of two pig farms in Seelong.

He said the hospital would accept more people for observation if they turned up.

On Sunday, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said the workers would have to be admitted so that their health could be monitored even though they tested negative for the virus.

Chua said this was necessary as the virus had an incubation period of eight to 14 days.

Meanwhile, the Johor Government would release details of the culling of 4,000 pigs at the farm tomorrow.

State Environment and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Dr Chua Soi Lek said a report would be released by the Veterinary Services Department after the operation.

"Information given sooner will only create confusion and we will therefore not make a statement until the culling is completed," he said yesterday.

Culling at the Seelong farms was being done after three pigs tested positive for the Nipah virus.

An operations room for the police, army, fire services and health officers has been set up at Kampung Maju Jaya, 15km from the farm.

On Sunday, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik urged Malaysians to learn from the recent viral outbreak and take more care in keeping the environment clean.

Dr Ling, who is Transport Minister and deputy chairman of the Cabinet task force on JE, stressed the importance of keeping the surroundings clean and free of mosquito-breeding grounds.

"We know the JE virus is transmitted from pigs to humans by Culex mosquitoes.

"The best way to get rid of mosquitoes, which are also the vectors for dengue and malaria, is to make sure our surroundings are clean so that the mosquitoes cannot breed," he said in a speech read by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Ong Ka Ting at a JE fund-raising dinner organised by the Johor Baru Chinese Federation on Sunday.

He also called on people to support the Anti-Mosquito and National Cleanliness Campaign launched last month to destroy mosquitoes and raise awareness on cleanliness.

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