‘Influenza virus not new’

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 12 Jan 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: While an analysis undertaken by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and the National Public Health Laboratory (MKAK) indicates an upward trend in the influenza outbreak, it has also found that the virus is a pre-existing one, and not new.

In announcing this, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the virus was not linked in any way to the current pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The analysis involved a study

of the rate of consultations on influenza-like illnesses and the rate of ward admissions of patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI), he told reporters after launching a blood donation campaign that was organised by the alumni of Sekolah Tun Fatimah yesterday.

The minister said that for the moment, the ministry still did not have a policy to provide the influenza vaccine to the public except in reference to high-risk patients at government hospitals and those with chronic diseases or impaired immune systems.

He brushed aside incidents of shortage of hospital beds at government and private health facilities as reported by a media portal, saying that not all influenza cases, be they suspected or confirmed cases, needed to be admitted.

“Only patients who fulfil the moderate or severe illness criteria, following tests, would be admitted for further treatment, ” he said.

On the matter of influenza vaccines being out of stock, Dr Dzulkefly said they had requested suppliers to replenish the stocks urgently to meet the country’s needs.

“In this connection, many

private health facilities that had reported a shortage of anti-viral medication has begun to receive their respective supplies.

“For our facilities, Pharmaniaga has given an assurance that stocks of anti-viral medicines will continue to be supplied without any interruption to ensure there are sufficient supplies at all times.

“It should be remembered that the use of anti-viral medicines needs to be appropriately considered by doctors as there is a possibility that resistance to the medicines may occur (among patients) if they are used arbitrarily without any control, ” he said.

A total of 52% of respiratory tract infections were recorded at educational institutions such as schools, kindergartens and hostels but this had not led to the closure of the affected institutions because the outbreak was still under control, Dr Dzulkefly added. — Bernama

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