Saturday, 23 September 2023

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Influenza A hits Malaysian schools

Influenza A (H1N1) hits the north, south and centre of Peninsular Malaysia. Though authorities have been cautious not to call it an outbreak or epidemic, the cases are on the rise.

Last week, 53 students from 24 primary and secondary schools in Penang have been reported with having contracted with Influenza A.

Malaysian State Education Director, Abdul Rashid Abdul Samad, explained that the 45 students were from 17 primary schools, including SJKC Li Hwa (a national-type Chinese school) and eight were from seven secondary schools were infected with the virus.

Two second-year classes that were affected at Li Hwa school has been ordered closed till January 20 to carry out disinfecting and cleansing operations. These measures were instituted when 19 students from both classes were found to be infected. However, according to state education despite the increase in cases, no schools have been directed to close.

To combat the outbreak, proactive steps have been taken by both the state department and health department by monitoring the cleanliness at schools as well as ensuring that students experiencing the symptoms to receive prompt treatment. Face masks have also been distributed to prevent the spread of the airborne virus.

The state director has also issued a letter to all schools in Penang to uphold cleanliness as well as to send students who were experiencing influenza-like symptoms to rest at home or to seek treatment at nearby clinics or hospitals.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, according to Selangor Health Department (JKNS) there has been another outbreak of 21 people in Cyberjaya who tested positive for Influenza A. Some 20 school students along with a teacher from Sekolah Kebangsaan Cyberjaya received treatments as outpatients after being diagnosed with the viral infection.

In a separate case, however, 2 siblings in Klang were tested positive for the virus.

Selangor Health Director Datuk Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman, said the situation was under control with no new cases reported so far. He also added that there have been no schools closed due to Influenza A in Selangor.

In the midst of this, yesterday afternoon, Johor Bahru has reported a higher count of Influenza cases. A total of 89 school children were taken ill with 56 such cases in the town of Johor Bahru, 15 cases in Kulai, 6 cases in Tangkak, 5 cases each in Kluang and Muar, and one each Batu Pahat and Pontian.

Johor Education Department, Director Azman Adnan, said that data received from both government and private health centres have shown the infected parties comprised of pre-school, primary and secondary children. He added that schools were operating as usual.  Whenever there one or two cases, the school’s standard operating procedure (SOP) applies, which is cleaning the classroom with Dettol. As an extra measure of precaution, schools have been equipped with screening equipment to detect students who have fever.

Influenza — which can be categorized as A, B, and C — does not share the same characteristics with those that come with the common cold though they are easily contracted through droplets in the air. Children under the age of 5, senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses are more likely to be subjected to risk. Symptoms of influenza include persistent high fever, cough, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and sore throat.

Bernama quotes that the Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, has addressed the press on the recent rise of H1N1 cases. The Minister emphasized that his ministry has reminded schools to take “all necessary prevention and control measures to contain the disease.”

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