GUA MUSANG: The Health Ministry is prepared to perform forensic tests on 12 bodies of Orang Asli from the Batek tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh here who were said to have died of pneumonia over the past month.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the ministry was prepared to carry out the tests if asked to help detect the disease that infected them and the actual cause of the disease spreading to a big group of the residents in the same village.
However, he said the ministry would leave to the police the exhumation of the bodies, which were buried according to the customary Batek tribe funeral rites.
He said the ministry had been facing difficulties locating the graves as they were said to be buried in the jungle.
“When we asked their families, they said they did not know,” the minister told reporters after being briefed on the issue and visited the Orang Asli patients receiving treatment at the Gua Musang Hospital, here, today.
A total of 50 Orang Asli from the Batek tribe were still receiving treatment at three hospitals in the state, 37 of them at the Gua Musang Hospital, 12 at Kuala Krai Hospital and one at the intensive care unit of the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Bharu.
Dr Dzulkefly also reminded the public not to visit the village for the time being for fear of being infected with the disease.
While refuting the allegation that the disease, which saw the patients experiencing severe cough, high fever, flu and breathing difficulty, was caused by leptospirosis, he said there was a possibility of it being caused by other infectious virus just by breathing.
“We have carried out some tests on that and are now awaiting the results which I will announce soon,” he added. — BERNAMA