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M'sia urges public not to panic as it reports human bird flu case

Malaysia's health ministry has urged the public not to panic after the country reported its first case of H7N9 bird flu infection.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's health ministry has urged the public not to panic after the country reported its first case of H7N9 bird flu infection.

A 67-year-old Chinese tourist who was visiting the east Malaysian state of Sabah is currently in intensive care at a private hospital, after testing positive for the bird flu virus.

The tourist flew into Kuala Lumpur during the Lunar New Year holidays, and later travelled to Sabah. She is reported to be in stable condition, and any public contact with her is said to be kept to a minimum.

However, despite assurances from health authorities that human-to-human infection is still remote, there are growing calls from the Malaysian public, including the tourism industry, for the government to step up surveillance at all major entry points to keep the disease at bay.

Chong Ka Hoe, a tour guide, said: "When I see people not feeling well, I will immediately send them to the hospital or clinic for a check-up first, before we start our group tour.”

Malaysia’s health ministry has urged the public not to be unduly worried because human-to-human transmission is still remote, but warns of possible infection via exposure to infected poultry.

Thus, it is advising the public to steer clear of wet markets and poultry farms, especially if they are travelling in affected provinces in China. 

Malaysia has been a magnet for mainland Chinese tourists who come to escape the winter chill, as the country targets two million tourists from China this year.

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