In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Singapore and Malaysia will form a joint working group to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

On Tuesday (11 Feb), a video conference meeting was held between Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Malaysia Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Both ministers had concurred that it is vital for both nations to keep working closely together to combat the outbreak. In particular, the volume of travel between Singapore and Malaysia is high, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) pointed out.

MOH added that “since the start of the outbreak, both countries have been in close touch with one another, including expeditiously sharing information on cross-border cases… The cooperation would not have been possible without the strong collaboration and network built up over the years.”

At a news conference in Putrajaya, Dr Dzulkefly stated that “we share the same Causeway, there are hundreds of people travelling across each day for reasons of family, business and leisure, so all the more why we should strengthen and enhance our cooperation managing this coronavirus outbreak.”

To determine the terms of reference and composition of the working group, senior health officials from both sides will cooperate for the next few days.

To take up the position as a co-chair of the working group, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min has been nominated by Singapore.

Mr Gan and Dr Dzulkefly updated each other on the outbreak situation in each country, discussed clinical management, public health measures and epidemiological findings of the disease during the video conference.

As of now, Singapore has reported 47 cases of coronavirus infection whereas Malaysia has reported 18 cases.

In Malaysia, 12 of the cases consist of Chinese nationals while the rest are Malaysians.

The first recorded coronavirus infection in Malaysia came from Chinese tourists who visited Johor Baru from Singapore whereas the first Malaysian to contract the disease was a person who had visited Singapore to attend a conference there.

On Monday (10 Feb), the state of Sarawak, Malaysia notified that those who had recently gone to Singapore must quarantine themselves immediately at home for 14 days.

However, on Tuesday (11 Feb), Sarawak’s state disaster management committee revised the measures. In place of self-quarantine for 14 days, visitors from Singapore only need to adopt precautionary measures such as practising good hygiene and avoiding public places.

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