Influenza A(H1N1): Take care or pay the price

(NST) Anyone with symptoms who ignores the Health Ministry’s advice and spreads H1N1 faces RM10,000 fine or two years’ jail.

KUALA LUMPUR: Those found to have wilfully spread influenza A (H1N1), which has so far claimed 62 lives including three yesterday, face a fine of up to RM10,000 or up to two years in jail.

The government has decided to enforce Section 12(1) of the Disease Control Act in another effort to contain the rapid pread of the disease, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday.

Court action will be taken against people who have influenza-
like illness symptoms but defy the ministry’s call to seek
treatment, isolate themselves or wear masks.

Speaking after opening the Lifelong Health Carnival for the Serdang area, Liow said: “The Ministry of Health takes this very seriously. We want everybody to abide by our call to help stop the spread of H1N1.

“We’ve to work together to stop the spread. I’m appealing to the public to adhere to our call for those who are ill, having flu, fever and cough to please wear masks and isolate themselves to stop the spread to the public.”

He said people who have symptoms of influenza-like illness could also get seven days’ medical leave to quarantine themselves.

Liow said two of the three deaths recorded yesterday were due to delayed treatment with the anti-viral drug Tamiflu, adding that the ministry would investigate the cause of the delay.

The Health Ministry has also set up a special focus group to
study the mutation of the virus and analyse the cause of death of every victim.

"This is to determine that the cause of death of every victim is confirmed as H1N1 and not any other virus."


Liow said the focus group was monitoring the H1N1 virus closely and so far, it had reported that most of the present deaths were caused by H1N1.

Asked about complaints by private hospitals facing problems stocking enough Tamiflu, Liow said he would be meeting with the suppliers of the drug soon to try and reduce its price and to ensure it was available to everybody.

Liow said 200,000 seasonal flu vaccines had been given to frontline medical staff to safeguard them.

Asked about the commercial sector taking advantage of H1N1 in their advertisements, Liow said his ministry would check on such advertisements to prevent them from misleading the public to make profits.