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Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. -NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR. 

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Singapore will form a joint working committee to address the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, in addition to the current collaboration between the two countries.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the main objective of the committee, which will be led by the countries’ respective deputy health ministers, was to strengthen ongoing cross-border efforts.

This was established during an hour-long teleconference between Dzulkefly with 12 senior health officials and Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and his team of eight officers, which began around 4.30pm today.

“Senior officials from Singapore and Malaysia will cooperate and continue the discussion in the earliest time to identify the terms of reference for the joint working committee.

“The main focus of the committee is to share information in the public health sector, medicine and to research the spread of the coronavirus which we hope to address effectively.

“Uniformed indication on the anti-viral used on patients who tested positive for the coronavirus will also be among the focus of the committee,” he told a press conference here today.

Dr Dzulkefly said that the focus would include identifying contact persons from both ministries for better communication to manage cases involving the coronavirus and the contact tracing processes.

He also indicated that one of the terms would include a travel advisory between Singapore and Malaysia.

Dr Dzulkefly said that as of today, no new cases were recorded in Malaysia. The number of positive cases remain at 18 while contact-tracing was still ongoing to identify close contacts of the cases.

“About 106 close contacts were identified and the total will increase until the contact-tracing process has been completed.

“Sixty of the close contacts are Malaysians and 46 are Chinese nationals. All those found to be close contact have given their samples and have been placed under the observation-and-monitoring rule,” he said.

From the 18 cases, eight were classified as Patients-under-Investigation; another eight were identified from close contacts and two were among Malaysians who were recently evacuated from China.

“From the cases, 12 are Chinese nationals and six are Malaysians. Out of the 12 cases involving Chinese nationals, three have been discharged after undergoing detection tests twice and proving negative both times.

“The ministry will continue to monitor the development of the disease based on information given by the World Health Organisation,” he said.

Singapore, meanwhile, has 45 positive cases. The republic also raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange after finding that several positive cases had no link to China or travel history.

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