Don’t panic over the flu, says deputy minister

People are unnecessarily seeking hospital treatment for influenza, says the deputy health minister.

PETALING JAYA: Don’t panic over reports of the influenza outbreak, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said today.

“Many flu cases do not actually require hospital admission,” he told FMT. Only those people in the critical group – such as children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses – were at risk of complications.

“Some people are worried about influenza cases in Wuhan, China, but that is limited to China and there are no such cases in Malaysia.”

He said the Wuhan cases were a result of a Coronavirus outbreak, but the cases in Malaysia are a seasonal influenza.

He said his ministry was in discussions with the education ministry and welfare department on measures that can be taken to prevent the flu spreading, especially to schools and kindergartens.

Lee said anyone with influenza symptoms, but who is not in the critical group, should visit a clinic first, and go to the hospital only if their symptoms persist. “Drink a lot of water, get a lot of rest and avoid public places to avoid the risk of spreading (the flu). If you have to go outside, please wear a mask,” Lee said.

The head of a non-profit medical association says that too many people are seeking treatment at hospitals for illnesses that can be treated at clinics.

Malaysian Medics International chairman Dr Vikkineshwaran Siva Subramaniam said the pressure at hospitals was delaying treatment of people with more serious illnesses.

Vikkineshwaran, who is with Hospital Kuala Lumpur, said: “It’s good that the public are taking care of their health but sometimes they worry too much. We have people coming in for every small illness.”

Some were misinformed and came to the hospital seeking vaccination for influenza because they were showing symptoms.

“The vaccines have to be taken before the symptoms show, and even then there are limited supplies and priority is given to those in the critical group such as very young children, pregnant women, very old people or those with chronic illnesses,” he said.