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Seven more A(H1N1) deaths today; total 51

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 Aug 2009: Seven more deaths relating to Influenza A(H1N1) were confirmed today, bringing the death toll in the country to 51.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the seven deaths were from the high-risk group who had high blood pressure, heart disease, low immunity or congenital disease. They were aged between four months and 92 years old.

“Currently, there are 51 cases in the wards and 29 in intensive care units (ICU). Sixteen out of the 29 in ICU are from the high-risk group,” he told reporters after launching the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity (Maso) conference here today.

Liow said patients with influenza-like symptoms and heart problems, those with persistent high fever for more than two days, and those tested positive for Influenza A or B through rapid test would be given antiviral treatment immediately.

For these groups, there was no need to wait for a confirmation from the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) or the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

“I have directed all hospitals and clinics to treat these groups of patients immediately,” he said.

Liow also urged doctors to give seven days’ medical leave to those suffering from flu so that they could continue treatment at home and not expose themselves to the public.

He also called on the people not to panic because 98% of those who contracted the disease had recovered.

What was worrying was the high-risk group, which needed immediate treatment if they showed A(H1N1) symptoms, he said.

“If everyone acts responsibly and follows the instructions of the Health Ministry, we believe that we can contain this pandemic,” he added.

Liow also said that the current situation, though serious because of the increase in fatalities, did not warrant the government declaring a health emergency.

“To declare a health emergency, I have to quarantine the community, whereby the government must curb the people’s movements. We have not reached that stage yet.”

On the closure of schools, he said the ministry had asked the school authorities to closely monitor the students and send the sick ones home to rest.

He said parents must also cooperate by ensuring that their children did not go to school and were immediately treated by a doctor if they showed signs of A(H1N1).

“We close a school for a week and then we reopen. Then there is another A(H1N1) case and a closure order is issued. This is not how we manage the pandemic because the disease spreads not only in schools but also in the communal areas, night markets or supermarkets,” he said. — Bernama

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