PUTRAJAYA: An 11-year-old girl from a school in Kuala Lumpur is among seven new confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) cases in the country bringing the total to 42.
The Health Ministry also announced that among the seven cases, one was locally transmitted but did not provide further details.
The girl had just returned home after a holiday in Melbourne with her grandmother who was the 30th case reported on Friday. They arrived on Air Asia flight X D7 2723 on June 16 at 7am.
She had gone to school the following day resulting in the home quarantine of her classmates.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, in a press conference Saturday, said health authorities were checking if students from other classes and teachers had close contact with the girl.
On whether the whole school will be closed would depend on findings of their investigation, he said.
He added that the directors general of the health and education ministries are expected to meet to discuss in detail on ways to control outbreak in schools.
Meanwhile, in Kepala Batas, Education Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the ministry would not hesitate to close schools with students who are down with the Influenza A (H1N1).
He said the indefinite closure was necessary to prevent the virus from spreading to other students.
"We will follow the decision made by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to consider closing schools with such patients," he said.
The H1N1 flu has been declared an epidemic and we do not want it to be spread to others, he told reporters after inspecting an abandoned school extension project in SK Paya Keladi here Saturday.
He said this in response to the 11-year-old girl from a school in Kuala Lumpur, who was among seven new confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) cases in the country.
Dr Mohd Puad said the best option would be to temporarily close the particular school since the girl had gone to school the next day upon returning from a holiday to Melbourne, Australia.
He, however, noted that the ministry would seek necessary advice from the Health Ministry before deciding on the schools closure.
Dr Mohd Puad urged schools to immediately alert the Health authorities should any student show signs of having the H1N1 flu symptoms.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican told students returning from vacation in countries affected by the Influenza A (H1N1) to seek immediate treatment if they had coughs and fevers.
“And they must limit their interaction with friends, including avoiding classes until they get better,” he said in a statement Saturday.
The restriction on students with flu-like symptoms was necessary to prevent the spread of the virus to other students, he added.
Dr Ismail also urged the public to cooperate with the authorities by postponing their travel to countries hit by the flu, “and travel only if it is absolutely necessary.”
“The chances of contracting the virus when flying to an affected country is increased, whether you are in that country or during the flight there.”
“You won’t only need treatment in that country but you and your family will be quarantined if you are found to be positive with the virus,” he said.
Dr Ismail called on all those who came in contact with those who had been tested positive for the flu virus, including passengers on the same flight and crew members, to get in touch with the Health Ministry at 03-88810200 or 88810300 for medical advice and home quarantine procedures.
He added that the public should closely follow the latest developments of the flu outbreak via the Health Ministry’s website at www.moh.gov.my.
Parents, should however, not be unduly alarmed as officers from both the Health and Education ministries are on the alert to help contain its widespread, he said.
As an immediate measure, he said, the Health Minstry would be asked to conduct random medical checks among students in several schools in Kuala Lumpur that might be at risk with such problems.
By DHARMENDER SINGH
Source : http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/6/20/nation/20090620101008&sec=nation