Thursday, August 20, 2009

Influenza A(H1N1) hits record high with 569 cases (Update)

Influenza A(H1N1) hits record high with 569 cases (Update)


The Star, 20 August 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia recorded its highest number of influenza A(H1N1) cases in a day with 569 infections.

There was also one death, bringing the total number of fatalities to 68.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this indicated that the number of detected cases was still on the rise.

“That’s why our surveillance teams are working hard to detect areas that are persistent in local transmission so we can take measures to cut down on it,” he told reporters on Thursday after attending a campaign on prevention and treating A(H1N1).

He added there were 1,533 patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) who were admitted to 104 hospitals included four private establishments.

From this, 195 tested positive for the virus while 35 patients are in the intensive care unit.

A total of 188 people have been discharged from hospital.

Liow also said that private hospitals could not refuse treatment to patients with ILI.

He added the ministry would probe fatalities caused by late treatment of the patients at private hospitals.

According to a press statement from Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, the death involved a 33-year old woman who was in the 34th week of her pregnancy.

The patient was treated and admitted into a private hospital in Johor Baru on Aug 8 after developing fever and cough for a day.

She was subsequently, referred and admitted to the intensive care unit of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru for breathing difficulties five days later.

Tamiflu was administered.

“However, she died the following day because of severe pneumonia and respiratory failure,” he said.

She confirmed positive for the virus on Aug 14.

Earlier, Liow said government clinics in urban areas would now be opened on weekends to treat flu patients.

He said this was to reduce congestions and long queues at public hospitals.

The move takes effect immediately and the hours would differ from state to state, he added.

“In terms of hours, it will be the same as weekdays from 8am to 8pm for selangor,” he told reporters on Thursday after the launch of a seminar of stem cell research and therapy at Ampang Hospital.

“It is up to the state directors to decide on the exact number of hours to open in their respective areas depending on the number of patients.”

He added the doctors from public hospitals will be deployed to the clinics whenever necessary to assist the staff there.

Liow added insurance companies should include cause of death due to complications as a result of contracting influenza A (H1N1) in policies for their clients, regardless of whether they were new or old policy holders.

“I am confident that the demand for insurance will go up because of this health sit due to H1N1,” he added.

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