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Published: Friday May 15, 2009 MYT 2:10:00 PM
Updated: Friday May 15, 2009 MYT 8:51:31 PM

Malaysia confirms first case of A(H1N1) flu (Update 2)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday confirmed its first case of the A(H1N1) flu in a 21-year-old student who returned from the United States on Wednesday morning.

All the 192 passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH091 from Newark on Wednesday are urged to contact the Health Ministry by calling 03-88810200 or 03-88810300

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the case made Malaysia the 36th country to be affected by the virus.

“Malaysia is now on high alert,” said Liow, who is in London now, enroute to Geneva, for a World Health Organisation meeting. He added he would return earlier than his scheduled return next Friday.

Meanwhile, A statement by the Health Ministry's director-general, Dr. Ismail Merican, said the young man was hospitalised on Thursday for fever, sore throat and body aches.

Tests confirmed that he was infected with the A(H1N1) virus, the statement said. He is receiving anti-viral treatment and was in stable condition, it said.

Ismail said the ministry had contacted members of his family but they have not been placed under quarantine.

Ismail said his department was taking steps to protect public health and that there was no reason to panic.

Meanwhile, in Putrajaya, acting Health Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said later Friday that the fact that Malaysia’s first A(H1N1) patient managed to pass through the scanners at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) undetected was in no way indicative of scanners’ failure.

Kong said the scanners installed since the start of the global alert on the disease traced elevated body temperature levels in travellers coming into the country and did not pick out the 21-year-old student flying in from the United States as the symptoms were not showing yet.

He said the virus had a two to three day incubation period during which none of the symptoms linked to the disease were visible and that was why he passed undetected by the scanner after his flight landed at 7.15am on Wednesday.

He said the Health Ministry would continue to use the scanners at entry points and continue with all the precautionary measures it had taken since the global alert was first issued and there were no plans to tighten measures further.

“The ministry has taken all the possible precautionary measures to control and contain the disease after the WHO (World Health Organisation) issued a level five alert so we are calling on the public not to panic as the situation is under control.

“I also want to assure the people that we will make public any information related to the disease that we have just as we did with our first case confirmed today,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that a man from Bukit Mertajam held under observation at the isolation ward of the Penang Hospital has been declared free of Influenza A (H1N1).

"We just got a report that the blood test on the 26-year-old man was negative," State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said when contacted by Bernama Friday.

A test on a sample of his blood had been sent to Kuala Lumpur.

The man was kept for observation Thursday after he was found to have fever and symptoms similar to those of Influenza A (H1N1) on his return from the United States.

Two weeks ago, a New Zealand tourist was admitted to the isolation ward of the hospital for suspected Influenza A (H1N1) but a blood test also showed up negative.

Related article:
WHO chief warns against false security about flu
All 10 suspected A(H1N1) flu patients cleared

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