Dr Sim: Zika’s entry into M’sia inevitable

sim_pic

KUCHING: The entry of the Zika virus into Malaysia is inevitable and it is best to contain it from spreading, said Sarawak Local Government Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian.

This came after one new case was detected in Miri.

Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam had confirmed two new Zika virus cases in Miri and in Setapak, Selangor. Both patients are sisters and had worked in Singapore.

The Miri patient, an unnamed 35-year-old pregnant woman, was admitted to Miri Hospital on Sunday after she suffered rashes.

Her 39-year-old sister was hospitalised in Setapak the same day. She was reportedly in Miri on Aug 26, before leaving for Kuala Lumpur on Sept 26.

Sim said prevention measures were very challenging.

“For example, if you are infected and there is no fever during the screening, you can still walk through into the country.

“To me, screening is only a measure and not a foolproof one. The screening only detects those running a temperature. And we cannot close our borders, with no one allowed to fly in and no one allowed to fly out.

“So, still look after yourself, but clean your own house while the council can help clean the outside,” said Sim, a cardiologist before he became a politician.

Vector control was carried out in 118 premises in the residential areas surrounding the Miri patient’s home.

Sim said the best measures to be taken were using larvicide and fogging of potential Aedes-breeding grounds.

Homeowners must change the water in containers and gully-traps in their homes.

According to Sim, all six family members of the Miri patient living with her showed no symptoms or signs of Zika infection.

The pregnant woman is under close observation by the hospital’s obstetrician and paediatrician.

The Miri patient was in Singapore from July 24 to 29.

The city-state is a hotspot, with 333 confirmed cases as of yesterday, according to Singapore’s National Environment Agency.

Blood samples of infected patients have been tested positive by the Kuala Lumpur-based Institute of Medical Research (IMR). Sim said the IMR would confirm whether the virus is of the French Polynesian or local strain.

Sim advised people not to panic as the virus had yet to prove itself to be lethal on its own.

“You can get infected, but after seven days, you’ll be okay. At the moment, the consequences of the infection are most severe among pregnant women because they may pass it on to the baby.”

Sim said it was not important to know who the Zika infected patient was.

“More important is for all of us to prevent Aedes mosquitoes from breeding in and around our own homes and prevent ourselves from getting bitten.”

Most people infected by Zika exhibit no symptoms. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious brain defects to the baby.

The Zika virus can also be spread by sexual transmission.