Updated 7.11pm, 15 May 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, 15 May 2009: Malaysia has reported its first influenza A(H1N1) case involving a student who returned from the United States two days ago.
Liow This was confirmed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai today.
“The student is now quarantined at the Sungai Buloh Hospital,” he told Bernama from London.
“The student returned to Malaysia on 13 May and the next day, he sought treatment when he felt unwell. The test confirmed that he has the H1N1 virus.”
Liow, enroute to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the World Health Organisation (WHO) General Assembly, was on transit in London.
He said health personnel were in the midst of tracking down all passengers on the flight and those who had come into contact with the student since his return.
“This is urgent and all have to work together to prevent the spread of the disease in this country. We have initiated various preventive measures and the health department is working hard on the ground,” he said.
Liow also advised the public to be on high alert and immediately seek treatment if they feel unwell.
“The details of this first case will be given by the Health Ministry at a press conference at 4pm today,” he added.
Following the confirmation of the first influenza A(H1N1) case in Malaysia, all passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH091 from Newark, United States which arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 13 May, are advised to contact the Health Ministry.
Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said they should call the ministry at 03-8881 0200 or 03-8881 0300 for follow-up action.
He said Malaysia’s first influenza A(H1N1) case involved a 21-year-old male student who returned from the United States two days ago and started having fever, sore throat and body aches yesterday, and was admitted to Sungai Buloh Hospital at 6.45pm the same day.
“He has been given anti-viral treatment and is in stable condition,” Mohd Ismail said in a statement today.
Mohd Ismail said the ministry had taken preventive and control measures, including contact investigation into the case and informing the student’s family about his H1N1 infection and his contact history with the passengers and crew members on the same flight.
He said the public should not be unduly worried about the influenza A(H1N1) situation in the country.
The Health Ministry with the cooperation of all the relevant agencies were intensifying monitoring to ensure proactive measures were taken to safeguard the health of the people, he added.
The ministry is asking all clinics and private hospitals to be alert and to refer immediately all cases involving those who have just returned from countries affected by the influenza A(H1N1) outbreak and having any of the symptoms such as coughing, having breathing difficulty, body aches, headache and sore throat, to the referral hospitals.
Up to midnight on 14 May, besides the one confirmed positive case, the ministry had been notified that six people were admitted to the isolation ward of Sungai Buloh Hospital for investigation and observation, two to Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital in Seremban, and one each to Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, Penang Hospital and Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Baru, Kelantan.
“All cases show symptoms similar to that of influenza and had visited countries affected by the influenza A(H1N1) outbreak. Clinical samples from all the patients were sent to the Institute of Medical Research for tests which were found to be negative,” Mohd Ismail said.
He said so far, 20 thermal scanners had been installed at the country’s entry/exit points and 9,324 passengers returning from affected countries were screened yesterday.
However, none of the cases was referred to the hospital for investigation.
Until yesterday, the number of passengers screened at all the country’s international airports had reached 82,236.
Up to 8am today, WHO announced that another country, Belgium, had reported one influenza A(H1N1) case, bringing the number of affected countries to 34.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has reached 7,457, following an increase of 1,378 cases from the previous count.
Two more deaths were reported in Mexico, bringing the total number in that country to 65.
WHO’s warning on the pandemic is still at Phase 5 since 29 April, and it has not proposed trade and travel restrictions or closure of borders by any country to stop the spread of the disease. — Bernama