Penang on high alert for possible spread of coronavirus

State health committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

GEORGE TOWN - The state government has instructed the Penang Health Department to be on high alert for the possibility of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

State health committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said although the virus had not spread to the country, it was important to be prepared to prevent it from coming to our shores.

"In conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020 and Experience Penang 2020, I will ensure all units from the health department will be extra vigilant in exercising caution to prevent the virus from spreading.

"Thermal screening will be compulsory at all gates for international flights at the Penang International Airport.

"This proactive measure is to ensure the spread of the contagious virus can be contained, " he added.

Dr Afif also advised Penangites who returned from China in the last 14 days and with symptoms such as a cough and fever to immediately get checked at any public or private hospital.

State tourism, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin urged tourism stakeholders to also be vigilant following the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Yeoh said tourism players needed to take precautionary measures, with China's authorities confirming that the virus could potentially pass from person to person.

"We have many attractions which are popular among domestic and international tourists who come from many countries.

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"I hope tourism players, especially the frontliners, have the awareness to take preventive measures, " he said in a statement yesterday.

"If anyone displayed symptoms including high fever, cough and breathing difficulty, they should visit the nearest clinic for an examination, " he said.

Penang is a popular destination for Chinese nationals.