16 February 2020
Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) has cancelled three out of the four flights chartered by the Westerdam cruise liner to fly back passengers of the Cambodia-docked ship.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the decision was made after an American citizen who boarded the first of the four chartered flights displayed Covid-19 symptoms and subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus after she arrived in Malaysia.
The woman together with her husband, aged 83 and 85 respectively, along with 143 passengers arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) via flight MH8763 at 7pm on Feb 14 from Cambodia.
They were among the 2,257 passengers and crew members of the Westerdam cruise ship which docked at the Cambodian port in Sihanoukville on Feb 13, two weeks after the vessel was turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand, following a possible outbreak of the coronavirus on board.
“According to the initial plan, Malaysia Airlines prepared four special flights beginning Feb 14 until Feb 16. At the moment, only one of the chartered flights, MH8763, with 145 passengers on board landed at KLIA at 7pm on Feb 14.
“All passengers (of flight MH8763) were subjected to health screening, in which, two of them were detected by the thermal scanner displaying symptoms of Covid-19,” she said after chairing the Disaster Management High Level Committee (HLC) meeting.
Also present were Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) director-general Datuk Mohtar Abd Rahman and Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud.
Dr Wan Azizah said after test conducted on the female octogenarian on Feb 15 showed the she was positive for the Covid-19, the Health Ministry immediately informed MAB on its detection.
“In relation to this, all passengers who boarded the same flight (MH8763 with the American woman tested positive for Covid-19) are regarded as close contact.
“And based on such development, Malaysia Airlines cancelled the remaining chartered flights (by the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah said 137 people who boarded the same flight with the patient were allowed to proceed with flights to their respective destination after not displaying any symptoms related to Covid-19.
“Six other passengers (who arrived in the country via flight MH8763) will only be allowed to proceed with flights to their next destination if test conducted on them showed that they were negative of Covid-19.
“Although the Cambodian authorities said they had conducted samplings, we will repeat the procedures here in Malaysia.
“If the outcome of the test returned positive, they will be quarantined and treated at the nearest hospital,” she said.
Asked on the health condition of MH8763 flight crew, Dr Wan Azizah said they have been placed on home quarantine.
Dr Wan Azizah also said that remaining passengers of the MS Westerdam who are still in Cambodia would not be allowed to enter Malaysia since they were in close contact to the 22nd confirmed case.