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Sunday, August 16, 2009

A(H1N1): Latest death toll 59; those with symptoms told to avoid crowded places

KUALA LUMPUR, Sat: The Health Ministry has urged members of the public with Influenza A(H1N1) symptoms to avoid going into crowded places such as shopping malls to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican made the plea as the A(H1N1) death toll rose to 59, including three more deaths.

Dr Mohd Ismail said members of the public should be aware of their roles in containing the disease.

"Despite numerous reminders, the ministry still finds individuals with A(H1N1) symptoms going to public places and some do so without wearing face masks," he said in a statement.


He also called on people with flu-like symptoms to stay at home until they recovered.

On the three latest deaths, Dr Mohd Ismail said they involved two men aged 22 and 29; and a 44-year-old woman.

The two deaths occurred on Aug 12 and the other on Aug 13.

Dr Mohd Ismail also said that there were 120 patients still being treated in hospital wards and another 29 in intensive care units.

He also clarified that antiviral drugs were only for treating patients and not to prevent them from being infected.

He added that the drugs could be obtained for free in government hospitals and clinics.

Antiviral treatment, however, would only be given to those with influenza-like illness, those in the risk factor and people with high fever.

"These three groups can be given antiviral drugs without having to wait for influenza tests," he said.

In a related development, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said up to five million or 20 per cent of Malaysians were expose to the risk of A(H1N1) infections if the people did not take preventive measures.


Citing a World Health Organisation (WHO) statistic, Liow said, the world health body had also predicted that the pandemic could go on for up to a year.

Liow also said that a study by the WHO also showed that the actual number of people infected with the virus was 20 times more than the number of reported cases.

In the case of Malaysia, this could translate into 70,000 people compared with the reported cases of 3,574, he said.

All information on the pandemic can be obtained through the ministry's hotlines at 03-88810200 and 03-88810300 and websites at http://www.moh.gov.my and http://h1n1.moh.gov.my. -- BERNAMA

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