*Pandemik Influenza A (H1N1): Aktiviti Pemantauan Ditingkat
*W.H.O. Raises Alert Level as Flu Spreads to 74 Countries
(Photo:The government of Hong Kong on Thursday ordered all primary schools in the city to be closed for two weeks after the first cluster of local swine flu cases was found. Above, kindergarten students at a local school on Thursday.)
Pandemik Influenza A (H1N1): Aktiviti Pemantauan Ditingkat
Kementerian Kesihatan akan meningkatkan aktiviti pemantauan, pencegahan dan kawalan seiring dengan langkah Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO) meningkatkan paras amaran wabak itu ke tahap tertinggi Rabu.
Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican berkata dalam tempoh lima tahun yang lalu, kementerian telahpun membuat persiapan yang baik termasuk latihan dan menyimpan ubat dan alat perlindungan diri.
Selain meneruskan langkah kawalan sedia ada, kementerian akan turut memaklumkan kepada klinik dan hospital kerajaan dan swasta agar mengenal pasti mereka yang mempunyai tanda-tanda influenza dan sama ada pesakit baru balik dari luar negara atau mempunyai hubungan dengan mereka yang baru pulang dari luar negara, katanya kepada pemberita di sini Jumaat.
Dr Mohd Ismail berkata tindakan seperti penutupan sekolah dan institusi serta pembatalan majlis perhimpunan atau perjumpaan awam akan diambil hanya jika terdapat penularan tempatan wabak Influenza A (H1N1) di negara ini.
"Setakat ini belum terdapat sebarang kes penularan tempatan kerana 11 kes yang dilaporkan sebelum ini kesemuanya merupakan kes import," katanya.
Dr Mohd Ismail berkata kementerian juga akan meminta kerjasama pihak berkuasa tempatan agar lebih kerap memeriksa tandas di tempat-tempat awam seperti dewan masyarakat dan pusat beli belah bagi memastikan kebersihan tandas-tandas itu dijaga kerana jangkitan penyakit dapat dielakkan dengan amalan kebersihan yang baik.
Beliau berkata kerjasama daripada Kementerian Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan juga diperlukan bagi menyiarkan langkah-langkah pencegahan wabak itu dengan lebih kerap manakala orang ramai perlu sentiasa mengamalkan amalan kebersihan yang baik, termasuk memakai topeng muka di tempat awam sekiranya mereka mempunyai tanda-tanda influenza dan sentiasa membasuh tangan dengan sabun.
Dr Mohd Ismail berkata bagi membolehkan mereka yang masuk ke negara ini dijejaki sekiranya terdapat sebarang kes Influenza A (H1N1), kementerian akan meminta kerjasama syarikat penerbangan untuk memastikan borang perisytiharan kesihatan diisi sepenuhnya.
Mengenai situasi semasa, beliau berkata tiada kes baru dilaporkan, manakala tujuh daripada kes yang dilaporkan sebelum ini telahpun tamat rawatan dan dibenarkan pulang, meninggalkan hanya empat kes yang masih dirawat.
Beliau berkata sejumlah 32 notifikasi kes yang mempunyai gejala jangkitan influenza setelah kembali dari negara yang terlibat diterima semalam, dan daripada jumlah itu 23 didapati negatif Influenza A (H1N1) manakala sembilan lagi masih menunggu keputusan.
Sehingga pagi ini, WHO memaklumkan terdapat 28,820 kes dengan 144 kematian dilaporkan semalam, pertambahan 996 kes dan tiga kematian berbanding hari sebelumnya.
Di ALOR SETAR, Menteri Kesihatan Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai menasihatkan rakyat agar tidak cemas kerana penyakit itu belum mencapai tahap menular di Malaysia.
Beliau berkata pemeriksaan di semua pintu masuk negara diperketatkan bagi mengesan semua penghidap yang memasuki negara ini.
W.H.O. Raises Alert Level as Flu Spreads to 74 Countries
GENEVA — The World Health Organization has told its member nations it is declaring a swine flu pandemic — the first global flu epidemic in 41 years, news services reported.
The move came after an emergency meeting with flu experts here that was convened after a sharp rise in cases in Australia, which reported 1,263 cases on Thursday, and rising numbers in Britain, Japan, Chile and elsewhere.
In a statement sent to member countries, the W.H.O. said it decided to raise the pandemic alert level from phase 5 to 6, indicating a global pandemic outbreak, The Associated Press said, attributing the information to health officials from Scotland, Indonesia and Thailand. An official announcement of the change was due at 6 p.m. Geneva time on Thursday (noon in New York).
In an effort to avoid triggering panic with such an announcement, W.H.O. officials are expected to include a caveat that the flu, which has resulted in mostly mild cases, is not more deadly now that it has been declared a pandemic. Rather, the announcement reflects the global spread of the disease, not an increase in its severity.
According to W.H.O. rules, the organization should declare a pandemic once it finds evidence of widespread “community transmission” — meaning beyond travelers, schools and immediate contacts — on two continents.
In its latest report, the W.H.O. said Wednesday that 74 countries had reported 27,737 cases of the disease, and 141 deaths since the outbreak started in April. Those cases had been heavily concentrated in the Americas, but the rise in cases in Australia and elsewhere appeared to indicate communitywide spread in other world regions.
The declaration of a pandemic will trigger drug makers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine and prompt governments to devote more money to containing the virus. While international health officials have said the flu appears to be less deadly than the annual bouts of seasonal flu that sweep the globe each year, they have warned that the virus could mutate into a more lethal strain during the Southern Hemisphere’s coming winter flu season. They are also worried that poorer countries could be overwhelmed with cases they do not have the capacity to treat.
The experts gathered at the request of the W.H.O. director-general, Margaret Chan, who held a teleconference on Wednesday with worst affected countries to try to determine if there was “indisputable” evidence that the spread of the disease met the organization’s criteria for declaring a pandemic.
The last pandemic, the Hong Kong flu of 1968, killed about 700,000 people worldwide. Ordinary flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people each year, international health officials have said.
Meanwhile, efforts to limit the spread of the flu around the world continue. In Hong Kong, which is especially skittish about the flu after its experience with a lethal SARS outbreak in 2003, authorities have ordered all kindergartens, primary schools and day care centers to close after an outbreak of swine flu was reported at a local secondary school. The order, effective Friday, will last at least two weeks and affect about a half million students.
Fifty cases of the H1N1 flu have been reported in Hong Kong, but health officials said the 12 infected students at St. Paul’s Convent School were the first cluster of cases. The students are being quarantined at a hospital while officials try to determine the source of the infections.
On Wednesday, a 55-year-old man became the first person to contract the case locally in Hong Kong, according to health officials. So far, the city has had no fatalities from the disease.
Hong Kong’s Health Department says it will order 5 million doses of flu vaccine and open eight flu clinics. “The government is well prepared,” Donald Tsang, the city’s chief executive, said at a news conference on Thursday announcing the school closings. “There’s no need to panic.”
China confirmed 10 new flu cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections on the mainland to 111. Health officials say all of the country’s flu cases have involved people returning from abroad. According to the Health Ministry, the 10 new cases included a Canadian-Chinese teenager who had just been in Toronto and two children in Shanghai who had been in the United States. There have been no deaths, and more than half of those infected have been discharged from the hospital, the ministry said.
A Health Ministry official boasted Thursday that the government’s stringent prevention measures had kept swine flu from spreading in China. Every passenger arriving from overseas is checked for fever, and those suspected of having had contact with an infected person are placed in quarantine for a week.
“We think the method we are using has been pretty successful,” said Mao Qun’an, a ministry spokesman.
Chinese officials released Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans from three days of quarantine in Shanghai on Wednesday. Mr. Nagin and his wife had been placed in isolation after a passenger who sat one row ahead of them on a flight from the United States came down with a fever.
Mr. Nagin, who had been set to attend a series of economic development meetings, described the experience as “surreal” and said he and his wife had their temperatures taken every three to four hours. “When you see people coming toward you with full hazmat gear on, it’s pretty interesting,” he told The Associated Press after his release, referring to hazardous material protection.
In New York City, health officials said Thursday that three more people had died from the H1N1 virus, bringing the city’s total to 15, The A.P. reported. One victim was a child under the age of 5, one was a person between 5 to 24 years old, and another was between 30 to 39 years old.
The deaths came one day after health officials announcedthat in a telephone poll of New Yorkers, 6.9 percent of the 1,006 surveyed reported having flulike illness, like fever and cough or a sore throat, between May 1 and May 20, that may or may not have been swine flu.
Extrapolated to the general population, that would mean that about 550,000 people could have become sick with the virus. The 530 citywide who have been hospitalized make up a tiny proportion — about one-tenth of 1 percent — of those who became ill, an indication of how mild the virus generally has been, officials said.
The total number of swine flu cases reported to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other national, state, and city health authorities worldwide likely do not account for hundreds of thousands of cases which were not tested by doctors because of their mildness, flu experts have said.
“The findings don’t tell us exactly how many New Yorkers have had H1N1 influenza,” Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s new health commissioner, said in a statement. “But they suggest it has been widespread and mild in most people.”
Nick Cumming-Bruce reported from Geneva and Andrew Jacobs from Beijing. Sharon Otterman contributed reporting from New York.