Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Malaysia expands screening of visitors to all entry points

The Health Ministry has confirmed that no case of “influenza-like” illness with symptoms of swine flu infection has been found in Malaysia.

However, the Government is not taking chances with the outbreak that is already spreading across Mexico to other countries.

Taking precautions: Perlis Tourism and Health Committee chairman Ahmad Bakri Ali (right) discussing a point with a tourist who arrived via the Padang Besar train station yesterday. — Bernama

The ministry has already expanded its screening of passengers arriving at international entry points like KL International Airport, which it started on Monday, to the ground.

In Rantau Panjang, which borders Thailand, the health department began randomly screening those coming into Malaysia on foot.

“We are doing it as a precaution,” a doctor on site said. He set up an informal unit with five of his subordinates.

The ministry has taken measures to set up hotlines for the public to call for inquiries in Putrajaya and also started a 24-hour monitoring of the situation. The public can call 03-8881-0200/300 for enquiries.

Police personnel at Malaysia’s borders are on high alert to check any signs of the swine flu outbreak sneaking into the country.

A teacher demonstrating to children how to wash their hands as a precautionary measure against swine flu infection at a kindergarten in Hubei in the Anhui province of China. - Reuters

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said policemen would assist all border-control agencies to monitor for any signs of the disease at all entry points including airports.

“We are working closely with the Health Ministry to monitor the situation and assist in the screening process,” he told reporters after a visit to Hospital Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the 202nd Police Day yesterday.

Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Ismaiil Merican confirmed yesterday that no case of influenza-like illness with symptoms of swine flu virus had been reported in Malaysia. He said that based on surveillance of influenza-like illness, there had been no reported case.

He added that health officers at KLIA screened 428 passengers and airline crew flying in from areas with cases of swine flu for signs of the infection. Passengers and airline crew, he said, were also been given health alert cards and health declaration forms to fill.

“The screening at all international entry points continued yesterday. A technical committee meeting involving several agencies will also be held today to discuss other preventive measures and an integrated approach for the control of any infection,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Ismail said that in view of the World Health Organisation’s decision to raise the swine flu alert to Phase 4 from Phase 3, which made the current situation just two levels away from a full pandemic, the ministry would continue to advise Malaysians to stay away from affected regions.

“This is particularly when the travel is unnecessary and they are not feeling well. Those who fall sick during their travel should seek medical treatment,” he warned.

In Kuala Lumpur, Bernama reports that the Foreign Ministry had asked all Malaysian missions abroad to continuously monitor and update the ministry on the swine flu outbreak in relation to Malaysians residing or travelling overseas.

“The 60 registered Malaysians residing in Mexico where the swine flu outbreak was first detected and another five in the accredited Central American countries are reported to be safe and free from the virus,” the ministry said in a statement.

The public is advised to report to the Consular Divison of the Foreign Ministry at 03-8887-4000 if they are aware or informed of any cases by their friends, relatives or colleagues currently overseas.

Source : STAR
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