No let-up against Influenza A(H1N1)

DESPITE a decline in the admission of Influenza A(H1N1) cases recently, corporate citizens have not let their guard down.

A check with several major players in a number of industries revealed that precautionary measures against the pandemic have not been relaxed even though news of the influenza outbreak has cooled down of late.

The Health Ministry has reminded the public that the efforts have to be carried out continuously in case a second wave hits.

“I would say things can still be improved and every one should take an extra step ahead. I feel that we have yet to make a huge impact, especially in creating public awareness,” Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said when contacted.

“The Influenza A(H1N1) virus is still active, despite a decline in cases by 20% to 30% in terms of admission. We still have to take extra precautions in case of a second wave,” she added.

She reiterated that fighting the disease was a collective effort.

“Every one has to be involved in fighting the flu. If every one just leaves it to the Health Ministry, I don’t think we can cope,” she said, adding that regular sanitisation should be made the culture of our society even in the absence of a looming epidemic as it could prevent other diseases.

She advised corporate citizens to carry on, or even improve, the measures they had undertaken to contain the spread of the disease, while the public should observe personal hygiene.

In the hotel industry, the Hilton group gave an assurance that it had not relaxed its defence initiatives against the deadly virus.

“Hilton Worldwide is closely monitoring the A(H1N1) situation and continues to place priority on the overall wellbeing, safety and security of its guests and team members,” said PJ Hilton director of operations Rudolf Troestler.

Extra sanitisation of common area surfaces, including doorknobs, railings, elevator buttons, light switches and similar surfaces, is among the measures to maintain a high standard of cleanliness.

“We also closely monitor team members who may have health issues and those with A(H1N1) must not come to work until directed by their physician,” he said.

He added that all Hilton Worldwide hotels had taken steps to ensure that their respective team members practised the additional measures and recommendations issued by the relevant health authorities, including increased hygiene precautions and other preventative practices.

Public transporation providers RapidKL and Monorail have formed a taskforce to monitor the situation since the outbreak through ongoing communication with the Influenza A(H1N1) Operations Centre, Health Ministry and Transport Ministry.

According to a statement issued by the company, staff members are regularly given talks on the disease by the Health Ministry’s Kuala Lumpur Health Office professional agencies, while awareness posters have been put up at all stations and bus hubs.

Buses are cleaned with disinfectant daily while trains are sprayed with anti-bacterial solutions / disinfectants during train breaks at the Kelana Jaya, Gombak, Ampang and Sri Petaling stations.

The maintenance team also ensures there is good ventilation in the trains at all times. A special chemical is also used during daily station cleanings, while sanitisers are placed at prominent locations for every one’s usage.

The staff members have their temperature taken every morning before they start their duties. Anyone who has fever will not be allowed to work until they recover fully. Frontliners, including ticketing staff, customer service assistants, security officers and bus drivers, are provided with protective masks and gloves.

In addition, public announcements on Influenza A(H1N1) are made daily at all the LRT and Mono­rail stations while internally, heads of departments also channel the information to their subordinates.

Some major retail outlets also conduct temperature screening on all employees every morning so that customers can have peace of mind.

Among those making the extra effort are Parkson departmental stores, where frontliners who have undergone the test wear a sticker that states “Fever Free” with the day’s date.

“H1N1 posters and alcohol-free hand sanitisers are placed at escalator points to bring awareness to our shoppers.

“Also, in our daily staff briefings, all are constantly reminded on personal hygiene matters and the importance of washing one’s hands to rid them of germs and bacteria,” Parkson Corporation marketing manager Chok Choon Fui said.

In the food and beverage industry, McDonald’s adheres strictly to the preventive measures suggested by the authorities.

“We take our customers’ and employees’ safety seriously. We have stringent operational procedures to ensure that the safety and hygiene levels at our restaurants reflect our highest standards.

“To address the current health concerns, we have further reinforced the practices,” said McDonald’s Malaysia corporate communications manager Fartini Zaharuddin.

Staff members wear the “I am cool” badge after undergoing the temperature check to show that they are fit to work. This measure is carried out in addition to the fast food chain’s normal safety and hygiene practices, which include inoculation against typhoid for all members, sanitising utensils at least every four hours and using sanitised towels all the time.

“We monitor the Health Ministry’s website on a daily basis as it provides guidelines and updates on the disease.

“We communicate with our employees via email regularly, providing them with useful information such personal safety practices and the crisis management plan recommended by the Health Ministry in the event a case is detected among our employees,” she added.

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