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H1N1 outbreak: Be quick with updates, Rundi told

 | February 8, 2014

In Sabah where the health realities are confounding, the latest outbreak of swine flu is worrying.

KOTA KINABALU: News of eight cases of H1N1 in Sabah which was belatedly confirmed by the state Health Department on Thursday begs a question. Why is the government being secretive and the public kept in the dark?

Why did we have to learn about it through social media and short messaging sevice?

H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu, is no dismissive matter.

In 2009 there was a serious outbreak in Sabah that left the state Health officials scrambling and the public scared and in despair.

H1N1 is a highly contagious airborne virus. Even touching a door knob that has been exposed to a carrier of the virus could bring you down.

H1N1 symptoms that are very similar to the normal flu and lingering cough. There are so many cases heard in hostels, shopping malls, offices and even schools.

Is it not worrying? Parents and families must be adequately advised to take precautions, including getting their loved ones checked and treated at private clinics and public hospitals.

Sabah Health Director, Dr Christina Rundi’s Thursday statement confirming cases in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan  and that they were prepared to deal with an outbreak, while much appreciated, is small comfort.

This is Sabah,  where the health realities are confounding.

Health authorities knew in January

Rumours are rife that the situation is actually worse and that the H1N1 outbreak in the state had in fact begun in early January.

Would it not have been better for the authorities to tell the public earlier, so that those with symptoms could seek immediate treatment?

Now what is likely happening is that ignorant sufferers are self-medicating and carrying on with the routine instead of being quarantined.

If this is true, then the authorities be better advised to be quick with their heath updates and not try to conceal information, lest the IT-savvy overrun them with bad comments.

Then it will only diminish publlic confidence and paint a bad picture of the authorities.

Sabah is already saddled with so many problems in various fronts.

It would positively serve the authorities to be transparent and pre-emptive rather than secretive and reactive.

With this H1N1 outbreak now confirmed, there is likelihood of many others have also been afflicted with the virus.

According to Rundi, there were seven cases in Kota Kinabalu and only one in Sandakan so far. She said on being alerted of H1N1 virus at the Likas Women and Child Hospital on February 3, her office screened 31 suspected cases and confirmed seven.

But there were already rumours that the virus was first detected last month, January.

When contacted by FMT, Rundi affirmed the rumour saying cases were detected in late January.

She also  said that there were no new patients as at yesterday.

“Still at seven patients, four (three children and one adult) already discharged. Situation well controlled,” she texted FMT.

At least now we know the truth.


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