PETALING JAYA: The increase in influenza cases in the country can be attributed to people’s failure to listen to advice given by the Health Ministry and medical practitioners, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pix).
“The Health Ministry had previously advised that persons who feel unwell, such as those having a high fever, cough or sore throat, to stay at home and keep away from crowds until the symptoms subside or to wear face masks if they need to go out,“ he said, adding that some people had ignored this advice.
Noor Hisham said the influenza virus spreads mainly through contact as well as when infected people cough or sneeze.
“Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or an object that has the flu virus on it before touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.”
He said influenza can cause severe infections to high risk groups such as children, pregnant women and those with chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
He added complications arising from influenza could cause death to those at risk.
To date, a total of 176 cases have been reported, mostly involving schoolchildren. One child died due to influenza A.
Noor Hisham said there is no data for the fatality rate of influenza infection in the country unlike 31 other infectious diseases listed within the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
Additionally, he said influenza is present all year round in Malaysia, with no clear seasons.
“Variable periods of higher transmission occur inconsistently, in November and December, January to March, July to September or a combination of these.”
These coincide with seasons in nearby southeast Asian countries or winter periods of the northern and southern hemispheres.