Penang govt offers assurances as state reports first Covid-19 case

GEORGE TOWN: Don’t panic, the Penang state government said after confirming its first novel coronavirus (Covid-19) case.

A male engineer working at the Motorola Solutions Sdn Bhd plant here tested positive on Monday.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow issued a statement in which he said that the state government has already been briefed by state public health authorities and gave assurances that various measures have already been deployed to curb the spread of the virus.

Photographs share through social media postings showed empty shelves that once stored food and medical supplies at hypermarkets.

Public areas, from shopping malls to recreational grounds, reported a dip in the number of visitors over the past few days, while tourism players continue to struggle with below average hotel occupancy rates.

There is also an acute shortage of surgical masks and hand sanitisers since the rapid outbreak of the virus across China in January.

On top of this, Penang is also dealing with a prolonged drought, which has seen bush fires destroying land almost daily around Penang Hill.

Still, Chow assured, “Penang is under control even though there is now a confirmed case.”

However, authorities are aware of Penang’s high density, being a relatively small state, especially on the island, and that the infected engineer works in Bayan Lepas, the main employment epicenter in the state’s heavily populated industrial free trade zone.

The engineer who is unmarried, had also visited a clinic in Sungai Ara.

Chow said that the state government, together with the health department, is already on this, working out proper and legitimate communication channels to prevent panic and fake news.

Penang Medical Practitioners Society president Assoc Prof Dr. Sivakumar S. Balakrishnan said nevertheless, appropriate measures must be taken.

He said it’d be impractical to isolate everyone associated with Motorola in Bayan Lepas or ban all its employees from engaging in public activities.

Instead, he said each and everyone should be responsible and practice self-restraint and self-quarantine accordingly.

“The public health inspectors will screen everyone exposed to the infected engineer and do contact tracing. Only those in close contact (with him) should be quarantined.”

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