KUALA LUMPUR: At least 20 to 30 per cent of the Malaysian population are expected to be infected with influenza A (H1N1).
As such, the World Health Organisation said the government must come out with a comprehensive plan to better handle the situation with sufficient human resources, medical facilities, equipment and medication.
WHO representative for Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, Dr Han Tieru, said: "There will be many severe cases and many will die.
"Malaysia, just like other countries around the world and region, must be prepared to handle the burden."
Many will need hospitalisation and intensive care treatment. He added Malaysians cannot take the current pandemic lightly and be complacent as it was spreading rapidly, infecting thousands and killing many every day.
In Malaysia, he said, the number of confirmed cases and deaths was rising and causing concern. Another 270 new cases and six deaths were reported within the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in Malaysia to 2,253 with 38 deaths.
"This pandemic is still evolving and the new virus is expected to be around infecting people for at least a year or more. We are definitely going to see many people around the world being victims of this new virus. The reality is the pandemic will not stop soon," he told the New Straits Times.
He said there were people, including those in Malaysia, who think that the pandemic will stop soon, thus taking a very relaxed approach and not heeding the advice of health experts.
"Let me warn you, it's going to be around for more than a year. We are going to see an increasing number of more severe cases and deaths."
Commending the government and health ministry for their untiring effort taken in the containment and mitigation phase to reduce local transmissions, he said the government was doing its part to reduce or delay the spread.