Parti Keadilan Rakyat Vice President and member of Parliament Gopeng, Dr Lee Boon Chye urged the coming weekly cabinet meeting to activate National Security Council (NSC) at all levels to combat H1N1 Influenza A virus epidemic. This involves a cabinet decision to invoke NSC Arahan 20 to enable taking over control of the emergency situation as a threat to the national security resulting from H1N1 Influenza A by the Security Council at the national, state and district level. His demand was make following the latest statistics on the epidemic which affected 1429 victims and claimed 7 lives including 2 children and a 24-year-old mother.
The situation is worrisome because the latest mortality involves 2 otherwise healthy children, who succumbed within few days of onset of the infection. Worldwide statistics also showed that the mortality rate has increased from 0.4% at earlier phase to 0.7% (1,301 deaths out of 183,826 cases) now, which may indicate increased virulence of the virus.
The exponential increase in local transmission in the country at multiple clusters indicates that control measure to prevent and contain the infection to date has failed.
Dr Lee Boon Chye was also surprised at the recent zero or near zero imported cases, despite escalating worldwide pandemic. He urged the Ministry of Health to review and tighten the screening procedure at entry points because the statistic on imported cases with near zero cases may be due to the failure in picking up such cases rather than actual decline.
Dr Lee Boon Chye who is also a practicing doctor and Health spokesperson for Parti Keadilan Rakyat suggests the Cabinet to:
- Declare H1N1 Influenza A virus epidemic as an emergency and to invoke NSC Arahan 20 to enable National Security Councils at National, State and District levels to co-ordinate all governmental and non-governmental agencies to combat the epidemic.
- Start mandatory screening (of body temperature and symptom of Influenza A infection) at entrance to all public and private facilities where people congregate, including schools, hospitals, hotels, supermarkets, government offices, restaurants , factories etc.
- Make H1N1 test kits readily available for all medical facilities, including government hospitals and health centers, private hospitals and general practitioners.
- Ensure sufficient anti-H1N1 influenza A drug (Tamiflu) at all times as the epidemic may affect up to 20% of the population as projected by WHO.
- Review and tightening the existing screening measures at all entry points.
The Cabinet must re-examine the situation and review the existing measures to limit the extent of the epidemic, reduce mortality arising from the infection and minimize the social and economic impact.