Malaysian health ministry investigating reports that former ministers may have come in contact with COVID-19 patient

Malaysian health ministry investigating reports that former ministers may have come in contact with COVID-19 patient

Malaysia COVID-19 (1)
This handout photo taken and released on February 4, 2020 by Malaysia's Ministry of Health shows health workers wearing protective suits as Malaysian nationals arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, after being evacuated from China's Wuhan. (Photo: AFP/Malaysia's Ministry of Health/Muzzafar Kasim) 

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Health Ministry said on Monday (Mar 2) it is investigating information that two former political office holders may have come into contact with a COVID-19 patient while attending a function.  

“The Health Ministry refers to information circulating on social media about two high profile individuals who are said to be suspected of being infected with COVID-19, and linked to Case 26. 

“(The matter) is under investigation and appropriate measures will be taken,” Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement. 

While the statement did not identify the individuals concerned, a former minister from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) told Bernama that he has tested negative for the coronavirus. 

An ex-deputy minister said his test result will be out on Wednesday. 

The two politicians were believed to have come into close contact with a COVID-19 patient at an event last Thursday, held in the midst of the power struggle that resulted in the toppling of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. 

Malaysian media reported on Monday that the patient is a director of UDA Holdings and a senior member in the leadership of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional.

Both entities have issued statements confirming the individual has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

READ: Four new COVID-19 cases in Malaysia

The Feb 27 function was said to be a farewell event for the outgoing minister and deputy minister. All Malaysian ministers were relieved of their duties on Monday, following the resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the prime minister. 

What ensued was a week of frantic meetings and negotiation among the politicians, which ended with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president Muhyiddin Yassin swearing in as the eighth prime minister on Sunday. 

UDA Holdings is a government-linked company tasked with developing urban infrastructure. It is fully owned by the Ministry of Finance Inc and is overseen by the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development. 

The ministry’s three senior officers have been put under quarantine for 14 days, the Edge reported. 

READ: So near yet so far for Malaysia's Anwar

According to the Health Ministry, the COVID-19 patient, Case 26, has a travel history to Shanghai in mid-January. 

The 52-year-old man started showing symptoms on Feb 27 and was treated in a private hospital on the same day. He later tested positive on Feb 29 and is now warded at Sungai Buloh Hospital. 

Mr Wong Chen, a Member of Parliament from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, said on Monday morning that tests were being conducted on the said former minister and former deputy minister. 

“The ex-minister and ex-deputy minister have attended many political meetings during the week-long crisis. Please note that both have not been found to be infected and that tests are ongoing,” he said on Facebook. 

As a precaution, Mr Wong said he has imposed a self-quarantine in view of the situation for Monday and Tuesday, pending the test results of the two politicians. 

Source: CNA/Bernama/tx

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