Misleading flu info: Check the facts about outbreak first, says doctor

15 Jan 2020 / 11:17 H.

PETALING JAYA: Don’t jump to conclusions based on incomplete information – that’s the warning from a doctor on the outbreak of Influenza A.

Senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh said people should verify information about the disease before disseminating it to others.

“(Such incomplete or inaccurate information) is creating panic among the people and that is not good,” he told theSun yesterday.

“There is no need to be terrified about this.”

According to several doctors, there has been an influx of people crowding local clinics and hospitals seeking vaccination for the infectious disease.

A doctor in Cheras, Dr Wan Nur Sabrina Wan Manshol, said many people had visited her clinic over the past two days to have themselves screened.

It is understood that many had reacted to a WhatsApp image containing “misguided” information that had been circulating on social media. Among others, the post stated that a seven-year-old, Nur Dinie Muhammad Noor Ain, had died of Influenza A.

However, it was later confirmed that the girl had died of kidney and liver failure at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital at 10.46pm on Monday.

Amar said ever since the outbreak began, many people had quickly jumped to conclusions without any proper research, nor reading the facts fully.

“It is getting out of hand,” he said.

“We do not have the maturity to read first. We just look at the news headlines, a couple of pictures, a bit of WhatsApp threads and we believe the claims,” he said.

He advised people to wise up and avoid swallowing all the “news” trending on social media. Instead, he said they should seek verification from credible sources.

On measures to protect oneself from infection, he said good personal hygiene was better than a quick fix.

“Malaysians have very low hygiene awareness. In Japan, the moment someone falls sick, he quickly puts on a face mask. On the other hand, we do not even bother to cough into our sleeves or handkerchiefs,” he said.

“We are still primitive. We look for drugs and vaccines rather than make an effort to prevent an infectious disease from spreading in our community,” he added.

Amar said there was a need to push for greater awareness about the need to wear face masks and to improve personal hygiene to reduce the number of influenza cases.

He also advised those in the high risk group, such as people with heart or lung disease, to get vaccinated.

“We recommend that children as well as adults who are fragile health-wise, to take a jab every year to reduce the risk of infection,” Amar said.

Wan Nur Sabrina said there were times when patients came more than once just to be sure they had not been infected.

“Many who come to our clinic are terrified of getting the disease, but there is really no need for panic.”

She said doctors would screen patients and only offer vaccinations where necessary.

“People should keep calm, but be alert to any change in their well-being, especially that of children, the elderly and pregnant women.”

She said those who had been infected should stay indoors until they recover.

As of Monday, a total of 373 students from 151 schools across several states – Selangor, Penang, Perak and Pahang – have reportedly been diagnosed with the infection.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would consider putting Influenza A on the list of six infectious diseases that would require quarantine leave.

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