Tuesday, August 4

Rosnah: H1N1 screening for tourists ongoing

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KOTA KINABALU: Screening to detect signs of Influenza A(H1N1) is still ongoing at the three main entry points in the country for overseas tourists.

These are the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and Kuching Airport, Deputy Minister of Health Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin said yesterday, stressing that the screening was particularly directed at travellers from overseas.

Rosnah added that said district airports also have their own screenings but did not specify which airports.

“The screenings are ongoing though H1N1 has slowed down.

“If the tourists show a higher (body) temperature, they will be brought to a clinic for a check-up,” Rosnah said when contacted yesterday.

She also said the tourists would be sent to the hospital if they show signs of fever or illness and would only be released after they have recovered.

“The patients mostly are not serious,” Rosnah assured.

Meanwhile, Kota Kinabalu Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB) manager Kamaruzzaman Razali said although the screening for H1N1 at KKIA had been stopped, in certain cases, especially outbound and incoming  passengers from overseas  would be required to go through screening as preventive measures.

He said from time to time screening would be carried out for incoming international passengers to Sabah if there was a directive from the Health Department.

“The equipment is in place and always ready to be used for  screening anytime.

“Under the normal circumstances, screening would be carry out during certain season particularly pilgrimage where all passengers boarding a flight to Mecca would be required to be screened as it is a procedure as well as to ensure their health is in good condition.

“For other cases, we are waiting for a directive from the Health Department to carry out screening tests to all passengers either for those passengers boarding international flights or to passengers coming from overseas,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Asked for comment on screening on Swine Flu H1N1 at Sabah airports, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said it has no adverse effect on tourism in the State.

On the contrary, he said screening would give confidence to international  tourists that their welfare and health are of paramount importance that they can visit Sabah feeling safe and not to worry about getting infected.

Amidst the H1N1 scare which dragged on until last year following the outbreak of the epidemic in 2009, Sabah continued to record an increase in tourist arrivals.

Over 2.5 million visitors came to Sabah from January to December last year and it exceeded the earlier projection of 2.36 million visitors in 2010 by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

The numbers of tourists from China and Hong Kong, the worst hit regions by the pandemic, had also increased by 11.3 per cent.

from 77,072 in 2009 to 87,217 last year, indicating high confidence among travellers in Sabah’s swine flu precautionary measures.

Masidi said H1N1 screening at the State’s entry points such as KKIA would allow the health authority to isolate those who are sick.

Therefore, he added this would assure others that they would not be infected by those carrying the H1N1 virus.

“It also shows that the heath authority in Sabah remains vigilant at all times,” said Masidi.