KUCHING: There is a need to expand the use of thermal scanners at all main airports in Sarawak following the detection in Bintulu of a person who has contracted the Wuhan novel coronavirus last Saturday.

A check at the Kuching International Airport yesterday revealed that only international flight passengers entering Sarawak were scanned using thermal scanners.

Only China nationals who came via Brunei, Singapore and Pontianak were screened.

Sibu and Bintulu airports, or the other hand, don’t have any thermal scanner.

Sibu Airport manager Zainuddin Abu Nasir when contacted said he had no information on such scanners in Sarawak.

“At the moment, we have non at Sibu Airport,” he said.

Words at the airport had it that there were rumours about the spread of the SARS-family of virus here.

An auxiliary cop, who declined to be identified, said the suspected patients were said to be tested at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

Last Monday, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad confirmed a report that a 25-year-old female Chinese national working in Bintulu had symptoms similar to coronavirus infection.

The woman visited Wuhan ON Jan 11 and returned five days later transiting at Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Meanwhile, SUPP Youth chief Michael Tiang called for a thermo scan to be set up at Sibu Airport the soonest possible to ensure Sibu is protected against the virus.

He also urged the federal government to approve funds for the state to have a Public Health Lab set up in the state.

“For the past, all blood samples collected in the state had to be sent to Kuala Lumpur for tests. 

“In the recent suspected case in Bintulu, we had to send the blood test to Kuala Lumpur for further tests, and that would take longer time than necessary in an urgent case like this,” he said.

The case in Bintulu involved a 25-year-old female Chinese national who has worked for a Chinese firm in the state for two years and had travelled to Wuhan on a business trip on Jan 11, and returned to Bintulu on Jan 16, via Kota Kinabalu.

On Jan 26, the woman became ill and concerned that she might have contracted the virus, she immediately sought medical treatment at a private hospital and the hospital then referred the woman to Bintulu Hospital, where she has been placed in isolation for 14 days.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who is in charge of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, on Jan 27 said the Bintulu case would only be made known by today after the lab results in Kuala Lumpur are released.