Ministry to update SARS guidelines


BY AUDREY EDWARDS

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry’s strategies and guidelines for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) will be reviewed and updated after it received feedback from the various parties, said the ministry’s disease control division deputy director Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman. 

The decision came after a meeting which was chaired by director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohamad Taha Arif and attended by about 30 people, including selected state health directors and the fact-finding team, which returned from Singapore on Saturday. 

“We are updating the guidelines based on feedback from the field, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the fact-finding team. 

“It will be distributed next week,” said Dr Hassan. 

Certain sections of the guidelines will also be clarified further to avoid any misunderstanding. 

Among the updates are increasing the level of urgency among the medical staff, especially adhering to strict requirements in protecting themselves when setting up isolation wards and making sure that staff submit complete notification forms from patients. 

The original guidelines, which were issued on March 17, were to ensure that staff were properly briefed on SARS and the precautions to be taken. 

A team was also identified to handle any suspected SARS cases while specimens will be tested at the Institute of Medical Research. 

“The guidelines also identify the referral wards and staff that will handle the cases.  

“It is based on the guidelines from the World Health Organisation and we have made the necessary changes to cater for Malaysia,” Dr Hassan added. 

He also said the operations centre had received up to 60 inquiries daily from the public regarding symptoms of the virus and whether it was safe to travel to certain countries. 

“We advise them to try and avoid going unless it is really necessary,” said Dr Hassan. 

He also urged the remaining Malaysians who stayed in Hong Kong’s Metropole Hotel from Feb 18 to March 2 during the atypical pneumonia outbreak, to have themselves examined at the nearest health facility. 

“Those who have visited places like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore should also come forward for examination if they show symptoms within 10 days of visiting the countries,” he added. 

The public can contact the operations centre at 03-2694 6394 or 03-2693 8053 or log on to http//dph.gov.my/sars for information.  

 

n HK housing estate like a ghost town – P34. Passenger screening lax at Changi. – P39 

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