JOHOR BARU, 21 May 2009: The government will remain on high alert for influenza A(H1N1) even though the country has been declared free of local transmission of the virus.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that checks at entry points would continue, especially on those arriving from affected countries such as the United States.
He was speaking to reporters after visiting the Kota Iskandar, the new Johor administrative capital in Iskandar Malaysia near here.
Earlier he was briefed on the Iskandar Malaysia development by Iskandar Region Development Authority chief executive officer Harun Johari. Yesterday, Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican declared Malaysia free from local transmission of influenza A(H1N1) virus as there had been no infection among those who came in contact with two infected patients.
The prime minister was also asked on complaints among members of the public that the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at the Sultan Iskandar Building here was not consumer-friendly.
Najib said the government would look into the matter and implement the necessary improvement to address the problem.
Earlier when opening the central cooling facility for government buildings at the Kota Iskandar, Najib said the country was giving emphasis to green technology.
Citing as example the central cooling system set up by the Jana DCS Sdn Bhd, which would cater for the need of all government buildings in Kota Iskandar, Najib said the system was not only cost-effective in terms of maintenance but also environmental-friendly.
“All in all, I am told that the Johor government will be able to save up to 15% in cost compared to using the conventional cooling system,” he said.
Najib later left for Singapore for a two-day official visit starting today, his first to the republic since becoming the prime minister last month.
Meanwhile in PUTRAJAYA, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai advised students studying abroad, especially in the
United States, to defer their trips home if they have any symptoms of influenza A (H1N1) or flu or fever.
Liow He said the same applies to other Malaysians overseas who were planning to return home, as well as tourists.
“Should they display any of the symptoms mentioned, they should quickly seek medical treatment,” he told reporters here today.
Liow, however, said those who really wanted to come home were welcome, and it was not a problem as adequate measures were in place to tackle the influenza outbreak.
He also reminded travellers to accurately fill in the health declaration form that would be provided on their flights so that they could be easily contacted if necessary.
Liow, who had just returned from attending a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting in Geneva, said the spread of influenza A (H1N1) in the southern hemisphere had been raised at the meeting.
He said there was fear the virus would spread fast there because of the cold season now.
On the status in Malaysia, Liow said as of this morning, no new cases of influenza A (H1N1) were detected despite 16 people being admitted to hospital yesterday for observation.
He said of the number, four were admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, four to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, two at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru, two at Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital in Seremban, two at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, and one each at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan, and Penang Hospital. All were confirmed negative except for the two cases in Sabah, which were still waiting for the test results.
He said the two US citizens, quarantined in Sabah for having come into contact with a Hong Kong person confirmed to have contracted the virus, were in good condition and would be released on Saturday if they do not show any symptoms of infection.
Also as of this morning, WHO reported that the number of countries affected by the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak remained at 41, but the number of cases detected rose to 10,587, with the death toll rising to 84 people.
Liow also said Malaysia was now in direct contact with China’s Health Ministry, which enabled timely updating on health issues, including the spread of influenza A (H1N1) in that country.
“Previously, we had to go through their embassy here and China’s Foreign Ministry first. Now we can communicate directly with China’s Health Ministry, not only at a minister-to-minister level but at the officer level as well,” he said.
Liow added that the agreement on this was reached at his meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the WHO meeting in Geneva.
Similar cooperation had long been established among the 10 Asean countries and also with South Korea and Japan, he said. — Bernama