Malaysia immigration dept confident with Ebola measures

Malaysia immigration dept confident with Ebola measures

PETALING JAYA - The Immigration Department is confident with the measures put in place to check the deadly Ebola virus from becoming a menace in the country.

Its security division director Ibrahim Abdullah said this was because those travelling from the affected nations in Africa required visas to enter Malaysia.

"If needed, we can stop issuing visas to those travelling from these African countries to control the spread of the disease," said Ibrahim when contacted yesterday.

A source from the Education Ministry said they were monitoring the situation and working closely with the Health Ministry and the Immigration Department.

Foreign students are required to pass medical screenings in order to be eligible for student visas.

These medical screenings include tests for infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, as well as "any other diseases that may be notified as communicable by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or Health Ministry".

Limkokwing University of Creative Technology Wellness Centre health consultant Siti Murni said the university did not receive official instructions to monitor students for Ebola.

"Nevertheless, doctors (at the wellness centre) are taking extra precaution for students coming in from the affected countries by looking out for common symptoms of Ebola, such as fever, muscle aches and diarrhoea," she said.

The university has a high percentage of foreign students, including those from Africa.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said it was keeping close tabs on the situation.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said scanners installed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport since the H1N1 outbreak several years ago could also be used to watch out for other diseases such as H7N9 and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Sources from the ministry said if a passenger with symptoms related to these diseases was detected, ministry staff would then follow a standard operating procedure by doing further checks on the person.

WHO has warned that the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is spreading faster than efforts to control the disease.

To date, there have been 1,201 confirmed cases in those countries. More than 800 people have died from the disease since February.

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids and tissues of those infected. It has a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.

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