Monday, August 26

Gag order imposed on JKM officers


Only Health director-general has authority to issue to the media any statement about HFMD

DARO:  Health Department (JKM) officers have been given a gag order, instructing them against speaking to the press about the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases in the country.

An officer, who accompanied Daro assemblyman Safiee Ahmad to visit the family of a HFMD victim in Kampung Pangtray on Friday, affirmed that only the Health Director-General of Malaysia could issue any official statement or provide any figure to the media.

It is learned that the JKM Sarawak teams are covering all villages across this district, carrying out disinfection works twice per day on every house suspected to house HFMD carriers.

Deputy Minister of Health Dr Lee Boon Chye – in a WhatsApp message to The Borneo Post on Wednesday – had confirmed that the EV71 – a strain of HFMD virus – was the cause of the death of Farhan Lukman, aged two, from Kampung Pangtray.

“One mortality in Penang (is) confirmed (to be) due to EV71. The mortality case for Sarawak (is) also confirmed (to be from) EV71,” Dr Lee said.

Farhan’s mother Mastura Ali, when met yesterday, told The Borneo Post that she brought her son to the hospital on July 25.

“He was suffering from fever – his body temperature was 37°C – they (doctors) told me that he was down with HFMD.

“The medical officer told me to bring him home and monitor his situation. He was playing as usual the following day (July 26), but then he got worse on July 27 – we rushed him to Sibu that same night; we arrived at Sibu around 11pm.

“He was pronounced dead around 2am at Sibu Hospital,” she said, trying to maintain her composure.

Mastura said Farhan’s elder sister, Nursyuhada Lukman, aged five, had a fever too – she was rushed to Sibu Hospital where she remained in the ward for two nights.

It is learnt that Nursyuhada has returned home.

“Thank God, she is recovering well – she is playing like she always has, at home now,” said Mastura.

Meanwhile, Safiee reiterated that the JKM is carrying out disinfection works on every village throughout this district to ensure that HFMD outbreak is contained.

“Do not be alarmed by the presence of JKM personnel in your village – they are following the standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent HFMD from spreading.

“The HFMD is under control – there is no epidemic, or whatsoever – thanks to the proactive measures by Health Department,” the assemblyman said, adding that
the disinfection works also cover the compounds of houses of suspected HFMD carriers, as well as the schools and playgrounds where they might have been at.

Safiee also handed over some personal donations to Lukman Abdullah, Farhan’s father.

The assemblyman and several reporters also met with some JKM personnel in Kampung Pangtray.

It is learned five teams from JKM Mukah office are currently doing disinfection works twice a day there.

In his statement Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who is also chairman of Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, assured everyone that the HFMD situation in Sarawak is still under control and is not at epidemic level.

“We are leaving the matter to JKM Sarawak – they have their own SOP. We (committee) are not issuing any statement, in that the situation is under control,” said Uggah.