No evidence of mass hysteria in Pasir Gudang, says minister

A total of 723 civilians, including schoolchildren, received psychosocial first aid, says the health ministry. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: No incidence of mass psychogenic hysteria was detected among schoolchildren in Pasir Gudang, Johor, following the air pollution incident in the area, according to government officials.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad in a statement here today said the conclusion was based on the history of exposure, symptoms, school distribution and psycho-social assessment of the 470 students involved.

“All of them have received psycho-social intervention and of the total, 231 were detected having anxiety, but only 22 from 11 schools were referred to (medical/psychiatric) experts for further treatment,” he said.

The statement also said that cumulatively, as of 5pm yesterday, a total of 723 civilians, including schoolchildren, had received psycho-social first aid from the Mental Health and Psycho-social Support Team.

Overall, the schoolchildren were found with symptoms of breathing difficulties and nausea and they were scared and worried about the same thing they experienced before.

“The symptoms experienced by the schoolchildren are considered a normal reaction of those who have gone through a traumatic experience. They were calmed down nicely by the medical personnel on duty,” he said.

Dzulkefly said the Johor Health Department is still monitoring the area and the public are advised to seek immediate medical attention from the nearest health facilities if having breathing difficulties or experiencing nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle cramps and weakness.

He said the ministry’s team was still offering their psychological support service in the affected areas. As of yesterday, 1,138 people in Pasir Gudang had breathing difficulties, with 1,093 receiving out-patient treatment and 45 others were warded.

No new cases were reported as of 5 pm yesterday.