Ministry: Beware ad claim on SARS product


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 13 Apr 2003

BY AUDREY EDWARDS

KUALA LUMPUR: Health Ministry enforcement officers will investigate the claims of a bleach manufacturer that its product can kill the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus. 

Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said yesterday action could be taken against the manufacturer under the Medicine Advertisement and Sales Act 1956.  

“It is not true (that the bleach can kill the virus). We advise the public to seek clarification from the ministry,” he said yesterday during the daily press briefing on the SARS situation in the country at the ministry.  

Dr Ismail urged the public not to be gullible and to exercise caution about what they read in the newspapers. 

“We have got very clear guidelines of what needs to be done in case of spillage and all that. In this kind of situation, everyone wants to have a piece of the pie.”  

The print advertisement, which appeared in local English dailies, claims that the liquid bleach can kill 99.9% of germs including the virus that causes SARS. It also urges consumers to protect their families from SARS by using the product. 

On claims that several private clinics in Perak, which placed notices refusing to treat patients who showed SARS symptoms, Dr Ismail said it was unfair for the clinics to treat patients in such a manner. 

“Patients should be given every opportunity to see anybody they like if they are not well. If they are suspect, then they will be sent to a SARS designated hospital,” he added. 

Dr Ismail also urged all doctors to take thorough and sufficient history of patients who came in with SARS symptoms, as it had been observed that this was not being done in the majority of notified cases to the ministry. 

He also said that the most important questions to ask were whether they had visited any of the six affected countries or whether they had come into contact with others who were suspect SARS or had visited the countries. 

He cited the example of the 26-year old tour agency manager in Penang where only upon further questioning, it was ascertained that he had visited Beijing and not just Bangkok as had been found out earlier. 

He also said that the joint border committee between Malaysia and Singapore to halt the spread of SARS would be meeting on Wednesday to discuss matters such as the epidemiological pattern of the virus and control measures.  

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