KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has sent a fact-finding team to Singapore to get information on treatment and preventive measures against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said among the team members was Dr Chua Kaw Bing, one of those who identified the Nipah virus that caused an outbreak which hit pigs here in 1998 and 1999.
He said the team, would exchange information and ideas on how to prevent SARS from spreading.
The team is scheduled to return later today (Saturday), he said.
It is important to learn about the treatment given at the Singapore hospitals. This is to prepare us in the event of an outbreak in Malaysia. We need to have the knowledge and capabilities to cope with it, he said tha, adding t both countries would benefit from the mission.
Chua also said the ministry was concerned over the situation in Johor Baru and had put in place measures such as stationing medical personnel at the Causeway and distributing health cards.
There should be more personnel at the entry points, not so much to prevent people from coming in but to advise those who have visible symptoms of SARS or are showing pneumonia-like symptoms to seek medical advice as soon as possible, he told a press conference after opening the Malaysian Physiotherapy Association's annual conference yesterday.
Chua said people were apathetic towards information and preventive measures given to them and this attitude must change.
He also said the ministry was taking steps like isolating patients if they were suspected of having this flu-like illness.
The director-general had stated that if anyone is suspected, we need to isolate them as we do not want to take any chances, he said, adding that the ministry had received notifications but they were not related to SARS.
Notifications are treated on the basis of suspicion, but we have to check and distinguish between those which are suspected or even probable cases, he said.
He added that the ministry was awaiting the World Health Organisation's confirmation of the type of virus that was causing this deadly outbreak.
On the lack of physiotherapists in Malaysia, Chua said efforts must be taken to address this problem as it was estimated that in four to five years' time, there would be a shortage of 600 physiotherapists.
He said local universities were offering courses in this area and efforts were also made to set up training programmes in various places to help increase the number of qualified physiotherapists.