Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister issued a statement on Thursday, February 6, extending the temporary travel ban on Chinese nationals due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Under the new regulations, the ban now covers individuals traveling from any province placed under lockdown by the Chinese government. Previously the ban only applied to those from Hubei province. Increased border security measures will also be implemented, including adding additional thermal scanners at entry points. Additional laboratory facilities will also be used to improve testing speed for 2019-nCoV samples.
Malaysia Airlines also announced on Wednesday, February 5, that it will temporarily suspend its flights between Kota Kinabalu and Shanghai from Tuesday, February 18. Affected passengers will be able to receive a full refund or request to be rerouted through Kuala Lumpur. Additional service disruptions or cancelations may be imposed in the near term. Up-to-date information can be found on the Malaysia Airlines website here.
At least 14 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Malaysia as of February 6. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 25 countries and territories worldwide. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
• Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease