Malaysians urged to be cautious following surge in H1N1 cases in northern hemisphere

PENANG: The high number of H1N1 influenza cases reported in the northern hemisphere lately is a reminder for all countries to be on alert for a possible second wave of the killer flu, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.“Although the situation in Southeast Asia is still stable, we cannot take things lightly,” he told reporters after opening a conference on HIV/AIDS in conjunction with World AIDS Day 2009, here yesterday.

He said the public must continue to be cautious as H1N1 was still active in Malaysia with about 589 cases reported from Nov 22 to 28.

He said of the number, 372 patients still remained hospitalised while the rest had been discharged.

“Of the 372 hospitalised, 10 tested positive for H1N1 and were placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU),” he said.

However, Liow said currently only four of them, who were deemed to be in the high risk group, remained at ICUs while the rest had been transferred to isolation wards.

“As far as I am concerned, we are still in a stable situation as there has been no cluster cases reported and no new deaths have been recorded since early September,” he said.

He said the death toll from H1N1 in the country remained at 77 while the total number of cases reported in Malaysia stood at 12,210.

As to developments on the H1N1 vaccine, he said some 6,617 frontliners had been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican in a statement advised Malaysians planning to travel to destinations in the northern hemisphere during the year-end holidays to take the necessary precautions in view of a surge in the number of H1N1 cases.

He said there had been almost a doubling in the number of H1N1 cases last week in northern United States, western Canada, Europe, eastern Mediterranean and Mongolia compared to the previous week.

The combined number of cases in these areas last week totalled 75,000.

On dengue, he said overall last week showed a downward trend with a drop in 55 cases with no deaths reported.

A total of 764 cases were reported last week compared to 819 cases the week before which involved three deaths.

States which recorded increased dengue cases last week were Kedah (50 per cent), Sabah (43 per cent), Pahang (26 per cent), Kelantan (22 per cent), Selangor (14 per cent) and Terengganu (10 per cent).

Chikungunya also was also said to be on a downward trend with 162 cases reported last week, a drop of 113 cases from the 275 cases recorded the week before with 96 per cent the cases confined to Sarawak. — Bernama

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