No taking chances with virus


Passengers at Penang International Airport this Chinese New Year wearing masks to protect themselves.

PATIENTS who visited China in the last 14 days or those in direct contact with the ones infected with the novel coronavirus and showing symptoms related to it will be placed under the state Health Department’s home surveillance.

Penang Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib said the department was emulating the method used during other major outbreaks like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Penang.

“Our department personnel will follow up directly on the health condition of the patients put on the Patients Under Investigation (PUI) list,” she said at a press conference held by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at his office in Komtar on Wednesday.

Dr Asmayani holding the home assessment tool, a leaflet giving safety precautions and steps to help those feeling unwell to check their symptoms.Dr Asmayani holding the home assessment tool, a leaflet giving safety precautions and steps to help those feeling unwell to check their symptoms.

“The patients will be placed on the PUI if they exhibit symptoms such as high fever above 38 degrees, coughing, shortness of breath and also pneumonia.

“In the beginning, they may exhibit just some of the symptoms related to coronavirus.

“When they come for treatment at clinics or hospitals, the doctors will give them medication and not admit them as they do not exhibit all the symptoms.

“They will be given a health alert card.

“We (the state health department) will be informed about their condition and they will be placed on the PUI list.

“After that, our officers will go to their homes and investigate their travel history and health condition.

“Subsequently, we will call them daily for the next 14 days to monitor their health even if they seem to have recovered,” she said.

Dr Asmayani said this follow-up procedure would only be carried out by the department based on two criteria.

The criteria are a history of going to China within 14 days and direct contact with the ones who have been infected with the virus.

“We also provide pamphlets for self checks called ‘home assessment tool’ to the patients and tell them to inform us immediately if their symptoms worsen.

“Right now, we do have a few cases on our PUI list,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chow said the state had not recorded any confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

“Tourist destinations in the state remain open as usual.

“With the situation in Penang under control, there is no need for restrictions at such sites.

“We have not reached a stage where we have to shut down tourist sites.

“The authorities can only advise those with flu-like symptoms to avoid public spaces and events as a precaution.

“Everyone should take measures to protect themselves like wearing face masks and maintaining good hygiene.

“I also urge hotels, shopping malls and eateries to provide hand sanitisers and masks, if possible,” he said.

The state government says tourist spots in Penang remain open as usual. Seen here is a group of foreign visitors at Kek Lok Si Temple during this Chinese New Year.The state government says tourist spots in Penang remain open as usual. Seen here is a group of foreign visitors at Kek Lok Si Temple during this Chinese New Year.

Chow said health authorities were already conducting strict health checks on tourists arriving at Penang International Airport and Swettenham Pier.

“I urge the public to stop spreading unverified information about the virus that they receive through social media.

“Do not forward these messages. Be patient and wait for authorities to verify details so only accurate information is forwarded.

“The state Health Department will post all news on their website and social media pages (Facebook page),” he said.

Chow said the state is on high alert and ready to face any situation if it becomes critical.

“The state Disaster Management Committee is on standby and it will be in full force if the need arises,” he said.
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novel coronavirus , China , Wuhan , pneumonia

   

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