55 Filipinos in Malaysia positive for coronavirus

MANILA, Philippines – Fifty-five Filipinos who traveled to Malaysia for a tabligh event or religious gathering in late February have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Friday, April 3.  

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Charles Jose gave the update in a Laging Handa press briefing, saying of the 55, a total of 46 were still being treated in various hospitals in Manila. Nine have been discharged.

He said they will be reptriated once all recovered. 

Jose said all but one of the 55 confirmed cases were Filipinos who traveled from the Philippines to Malaysia for the Itjima congregation at a tabligh gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from February 27 to March 1. 

A total of 215 Filipinos attended the 4-day gathering, which was attended by up to 16,000 Muslims.

The gathering has become the coronavirus pandemic’s largest vector in Southeast Asia, with more than 800 cases in the region linked to the tabligh event. 

In the Philippines, one person who attended the tabligh had been probed for the coronavirus. The person died last Tuesday, March 17, in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, while awaiting the test result. He was positive for COVID-19, reported ABS-CBN News

The 55 Filipinos in Malaysia are among the 211 Filipinos reported to have the coronavirus disease in Asia.  

The Philippines has counted at least 448 Filipinos overseas who were positive for the virus. Of this, 313 are currently being treated while 121 have recovered. There have been 14 deaths. 

Philippines health officials have counted 2,633 coronavirus cases in the country, including 107 deaths and 51 recoveries as of Thursday, April 2. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.