I REFER to the letter “Too little done to prevent the spread of H1N1” (The Star, July 2).
The Health Ministry conducted investigations and found several statements in the letter about half of the staff in a private hospital in the Klang Valley being tested positive for H1N1 and several patients getting infected after being admitted as well as two deaths to be inaccurate.
On June 10, the ministry received notification of one death involving a patient who was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a private hospital. A review by medical experts confirmed that the direct cause of death was not due to H1N1 even though the PCR test was positive on May 31. There was no other report of H1N1 related deaths from the hospital.
On June 28, the ministry received information about an influenza like illness (ILI) cluster occurring in the private hospital. Case investigation and active case detection was conducted immediately on the same day. It was found that one of the hospital’s staff working in the ICU where the deceased was treated was found to be positive of H1N1 on June 18, eight days after the patient died.
Subsequent screening of the staff found that altogether 16 were found to be positive for H1N1. All of the affected staff were given anti-viral treatment and medical leave and their conditions are stable. The last case from this cluster was detected on June 25. The management has since conducted daily temperature screening of the staff. We have not received reports of patients being infected after admission in the hospital in this cluster.
Currently, the transmission of pandemic H1N1 is already in the community in Malaysia as well as globally.
The Ministry has in place standard protocol related to the prevention and control measures of H1N1 at various phases of the pandemic. Our efforts to control the pandemic have been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation.
The Ministry has always been transparent in reporting new H1N1 cases and clusters in its regular weekly press statements which are posted on our website. The allegation about a cover up is baseless as this cluster was reported in the epidemiological week from June 27 to July 3, and will be incorporated in the press statement for the week.
Medical practitioners and the general public are encouraged to obtain information on the current H1N1 situation as well as the preventive measures taken to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus through the dedicated website http://h1n1.moh.gov.my or call the hotline (03-88810200 or 03-88810300).
TAN SRI DR ISMAIL MERICAN, Director-General of Health.