Wednesday, June 7

30 per cent increase in acute respiratory infections in state


KOTA SAMARAHAN: Sarawak saw a 30 per cent increase in acute respiratory infection (ARI) cases last week due to transboundary haze.

Health Department state director Datu Dr Zulkifli Jantan said the data was gathered by all sentinel clinics throughout the state.

“We do not have the exact figure, but we have sentinel clinics that gather ARI weekly. For last week, from September 7 to 13, we registered an increase of 30 per cent for ARI. These are non-admission cases,” he told journalists after opening the second Sarawak Pressure Injury Update 2015 yesterday.

Dr Zulkifli pointed out that the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings for Kuching and Samarahan (at the time of interview) had exceeded 200.

“It is at very unhealthy level now. The advice from us is the same as what we have given. First, you must avoid going outdoors and if you cannot help but must go outdoors, use a mask and this is especially for people who have respiratory problems or are asthmatic or with infections or chronic lung diseases,” he said.

He also called for a reduction of physical and sports-related activities.

“If you go jogging or brisk-walking, you inhale more haze.”

He added that schools, particularly in Samarahan and Kuching, were asked to close yesterday due to the high API reading and should remain so until the API readings drop.

“The instruction for schools closure does not come from us; it comes from the Education Department or the Security Council.

“If I’m not mistaken, it is school holidays next week. So the schools can close early for the holidays,” he said.

According to the state government almanac, the second mid-term school break is from this Saturday until Sept 27.