Reports by LEE YUK PENG, AUDREY EDWARDS, LOH FOON FONG, MUGUNTAN VANAR, CLARA CHOOI, EMBUN MAJID, CHRISTINA CHIN and ANN TAN
KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is now on “high alert” after the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the swine flu alert to Phase Five, meaning that a worldwide pandemic is imminent.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, however, urged the public to stay calm. He also said that to date, no cases had been reported in Malaysia.
“The National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan is working well,” he told reporters after taking part in a live interview session here yesterday.
Under the plan, the ministry will go all out to raise awareness on swine flu by distributing to all states multilingual leaflets, posters and VCDs on proper ways to wash hands and wear masks as well as the dos and don’ts about hygiene, said Liow.
All doctors at private clinics, he added, have been told to contact the ministry immediately if they detect any symptoms of swine flu.
The ministry has two million doses of Tamiflu and Relenza anti-viral medication and is trying to top up the stockpile with an additional 10%, he added.
Liow said the ministry had also issued a swine flu travel advisory on its website.
He said the National Pandemic Preparedness Committee chaired by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican would meet with representatives from non-governmental organisations and government staff on Monday.
The ministry, he said, would ask for at least RM10mil extra from the Government to provide vaccinations for 200,000 frontliners including doctors, nurses, police and immigration personnel.
On an apparent flu scare on Wednesday, Liow said that two men who had travelled to Mexico and the United States had been discharged from Sungai Buloh Hospital yesterday after they were found to had the normal flu.
“I am thankful that they informed the ministry about their visit to the countries recently,” he added.
Ismail said the Information Ministry would work with the Health Ministry to spread the health advisory to the public.
“It also includes the private mass media,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Ismail also said the Institute for Medical Research is the referral laboratory for the testing of the swine flu virus A/H1N1.
The institute, he said, was prepared to accept specimens of suspected swine flu cases, adding that the technical committee on flu pandemic would also meet more frequently.
How to protect yourself
Practise general preventive measures for influenza:
• Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and who have fever and cough.
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly.
• Practise good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food and keeping physically active.
If there is a sick person at home:
• Try to provide the sick person a separate section in the house. If this is not possible, keep the patient at least one metre in distance from others.
• Cover mouth and nose when caring for the sick person. Masks can be bought commercially or made using readily available materials as long as they are disposed of or cleaned properly.
• Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly after each contact with the sick person.
• Try to improve the air flow in the area where the sick person stays. Use doors and windows to take advantage of breezes.
• Keep the environment clean with readily available household cleaning agents.
If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough and/or sore throat:
• Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds as much as possible.
• Rest and take plenty of fluids.
• Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing and dispose of the used tissues properly.
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
• Inform family and friends about your sickness and seek help for household chores that require contact with other people such as shopping.Related Stories:
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