PUTRAJAYA: A second Malaysian has been confirmed with the Influenza A (H1N1) virus at the Penang Hospital, said Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat.
Dr Ramlee said the patient, a female student in the United States, was admitted after she sought treatment for fever at the Penang Hospital on Friday evening and it was found that she had been travelling on the same flight as the first patient.
As in the first case, she too only developed a fever after returning home and the results of medical test by the Medical Research Institute yesterday morning confirmed she had the influenza, he said.
He said she was one of 16 suspected A(H1N1) patients warded at various hospital around the country as at yesterday evening but 12 others had been tested negative while the remainder three were still waiting for results.
The other suspected patients, he said, were warded at the Sungai Buloh Hospital (9), Tengku Fauziah Hospital in Perlis (2), Malacca Hospital (2), Penang Hospital (1) and Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor (1).
Dr Ramlee said the latest patient was part of a group of four friends, including the 21-year-old confirmed with the virus at the Sungai Buloh Hospital on Friday, who had travelled on the MH 091 flight from Newark, United States and arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Wednesday morning.
The two other friends and the family members of the female student, he said, had been placed under quarantine at home but none showed signs of the symptoms linked to the H1N1.
“Both the patients confirmed with the influenza virus are receiving treatment and are being closely monitored but they no longer have any fever and are in stable condition,” he told a press conference here.
He said the ministry had also placed under quarantine at home staff at a private clinic who came into contact with the first patient when he sought initial treatment there but they and the five family members of the first patient, who are also under quarantine at home, were healthy.
Dr Ramlee also said that 81 Malaysians and 38 foreigners of the total 192 passengers and crew members on board flight MH091, were still in Malaysia and their contact details obtained from the flight manifest had been sent to the respective state health departments so they be contacted and their conditions monitored.
As for the remainder 73 passengers, he said, their details would be handed over to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be forwarded to the respective countries they had travelled to.
“I also want to thank 35 passengers on the flight who called us after the first case was highlighted through media reports and we have forwarded their details to the respective state health departments to be quarantined at home and monitored,” he said.
Health officials will visit all those under quarantine at home twice daily to offer assistance since those affected cannot leave their homes for seven days to even perform simple tasks like going to the market, he said.
He said the ministry also identified three passengers from the same flight, including a Malaysian, who were to leave Malaysia on Friday and placed them under quarantine at the Sungai Buloh Hospital since they had checked out of their hotel rooms and had no where else to stay. They will be allowed to continue their journey on May 20.
Asked is the ministry would take action against any flight passengers who tried to avoid being contacted, Dr Ramlee said it could take legal action under the Infectious Disease Control Act 1988 but hoped those involved would act responsibly by cooperating with the efforts to control the disease.
On whether it was advisable to wear masks in public due to the outbreaks of diseases like A(H1N1) and meningitis, he said it was more sensible for those coughing, sneezing or having running nose to wear masks and avoid infecting others since anyone within a metre of patients with A (H1N1) was in danger of being infected.
He also reiterated the ministry call for people not to panic after the second case surfaced as the detection of the patient proved the health authorities were on top of things and had the problem under control.
“We have been conducting non-stop screening of travellers coming from countries where there are A (H1N1) cases and have screened 88,644 since WHO issued an alert; yesterday alone we screened 7,528 passengers comprising 400 coming in by sea, 773 by land and the rest by air,” he said.
Malaysia Airlines has located and grounded its crew members who were on flight MH091 from the United States, said its director of operations Datuk Tajuden Abu Bakar.
He said the 15 crew members had been taken off the roster for a seven-day home quarantine as a precautionary measure.
“Malaysia Airlines confirms that the flight MH091 from Newark arriving at KL International Airport on May 13 at 7.15am was on transit at Arlanda, Stockholm where 80 passengers disembarked.
“From Arlanda, 199 people including 184 passengers and 15 crew members arrived in Kuala Lumpur,” he said, adding that the national carrier has since been in contact with the Arlanda authorities to provide them with the passenger list for monitoring purposes.
“Malaysia Airlines would like to reiterate that it will continue to monitor the situation closely and co-operate with the Health Ministry and relevant authorities to ensure all preventive and control measures are in place,” he said. MAS has also clarified that none of its pilots were warded as reported yesterday.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin urged Malaysians not to panic with the confirmed cases of A(H1N1) as the Health Ministry is well prepared and has taken the right measures from the very beginning.
He said the ministry’s past experiences with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) have equipped it well to deal with the present situation.
“The Government is doing its part in trying to contain the spread of Influenza A (H1N1) by screening passengers at airports, putting in place quarantine procedures and treatment of proven cases with the relevant anti viral,” he said in a statement.
He added that although the virus is not as virulent as first expected, and recovery is the norm, the public is advised to abide by the ministry’s guideline and to co-operate with the authorities to help contain the disease.
“Members of the public with flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and cough should see a doctor immediately especially if they fall under the high risk group such as young children, the elderly and those who have chronic diseases.
“The MMA has already sent out the ministry’s diagnostic guidelines to its branches to disseminate the information amongst all its members. Doctors are advised to keep a high index of suspicion and to report suspicious cases to the relevant authorities,” he said.
He added that doctors are also advised to educate their patients as to the risks, the precautions to take and how to seek help without causing alarm.
All passengers on the said Malaysia Airlines flight are urged to contact the Health Ministry at 03-8881 0200 or 03-8881 0300. They could also go to any hospital, clinic or health office for a follow-up action