Thursday, July 09, 2009

(H1N1): Msia moving from containment to mitigation

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is moving towards from the containment stage to mitigation of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus due to “clustered” local transmission cases, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the decision was made after 12 workers at a private company in Cyberjaya and six trainees at the Malaysian Maritime Academy in Malacca tested positive for the virus.

Liow said the spread of the virus at the Cyberjaya company started from last Friday, and an investigation showed that it had always been receiving foreign visitors.

“We have to change our strategies and be more proactive in this matter as these clustered cases indicate that the disease is spreading in various communities.

“Members of the public should not panic because most reported cases have been mild,” he told a press conference here Thursday.

However, he warned that if local transmission was not controlled, the virus could spread rapidly and lead to cases with complications, including deaths.

“Therefore, we urge members of the public to cooperate with us.

“If they suffer from any influenza-like illness, they should practise social distancing by reducing outings and gatherings with friends and families,” he said.

He said the transition period from containment to mitigation of the disease was to better prepare the people to be responsible for preventing themselves from contracting the disease.

“We have not completely moved into the mitigation stage yet but we are in a transition period whereby containment measures, including border screening, will still be in place,” he said.

The containment stage is to slow down the spread of the virus from both outside and inside the country. Under the mitigation stage, measures would be taken to slow down the spread of the infection within the country.

Liow said with this decision, mild cases without any complications would be given outpatient treatment.

“Only high-risk groups, including those involving asthma, chronic respiratory illnesses, diabetes, organ failure, obesity and pregnant women will be hospitalised.

“All our public and private hospitals are prepared to conduct tests on suspected cases and provide treatment to patients with influenza-like illnesses,” he said.

He said the triaging of patients would continue to be implemented at medical facilities and those with flu symptoms would be isolated.

“During this stage, home quarantine will only apply to those who show influenza symptoms,” he said.

As of 8am Thursday, there were 61 new A(H1N1) cases in the country - 37 imported and 24 locally transmitted.

“The new cases involve 52 Malaysians and nine foreigners -- five Indonesians and one each from Thailand, Brunei, Singapore and Pakistan,” he said.

He said 472 or 82.2% of the total 574 patients infected with the virus had recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

Currently, he said 102 patients were still receiving treatment at hospitals.

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