Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The reality hits home: Coping with the AH1N1 virus.

You know the AH1N1 problem has struck home when your loved ones, colleagues and friends are hit by the influenza. There are already 67 fatalities and the likelihood is the figures will increase. A fellow editor is now being quarantined at home after a bout of bad flu but she is recovering at home. The workaholic MStar journalist is filing news from her home.

Last week, another editor from MStar, the Bahasa Malaysia portal of The Star, and his family were kept at home after his fever refused to come down. After checking at a hospital, it was relief to know that the fever was caused by viral infection and not AH1N1.

A colleague from the In Tech section was also a suspect after his son was confirmed an AH1N1 victim. But thank God, both have recovered. Two Penang reporters, covering the Permatang Pasir by-election, have now been quarantined.

The series of sickness affecting my colleagues have been worrying. A reporter at a business publication was confirmed a virus victim last week and the entire multi-media section was shut down. Newspaper offices are now making emergency plans of working from home if the situation worsens. Visitors to our office have been asked to clean their hands with hand sanitizer at the lobby reception before making their way to the various departments.

For reporters attending functions at crowded places, we have handed out facial masks for them but it is probably more difficult for reporters covering the hospital beat. It's an occupational hazard. I remembered when the Nipah Virus hit in 2000, many of us had to visit pig farms where thounsands of the sick animals were culled. Some reporters fell sick after a while.

The fear is that with summer over in Europe and the United States, the flu situation could worsen. The prediction is that millions could be infected soon, especially students who would be starting classes in schools and colleges. The latest issue of Time reported that in the US, the sheer size of the pandemic response has begun to hit home. Immunization has started in schools and nurses are even placed in some schools. Local health departments are preparing to enlist private sector doctors and nurses to aid the effort with plans to rent empty shoplots and reopening vacant schools for the worst case scenario.

Back in Malaysia, there are concerns that our people are not displaying self-discipline with people who are supposed to be quarantined supposedly going shopping instead, without consideration for the rest of us. We have to get used to the idea that this is serious and that politicians should not be worried with media reports of the AH1N1. It's not a question of keeping tourists away but a matter of taking the necessary steps to prevent ourselves from falling sick.


Unknown said...

Dear Wong,

With the number of deaths mounting with each passing day, the govt. has finally realise the seriousness of this AH1N1 infection.

Other than praying for God's protection, the public would do well to protect oneself against this dreaded flu as best as we can.

With the constant fear of H1N1 symptoms, the following measures can be practiced by one
and all.

This is an information which I just received from my friend who said it is from a Consultant General Surgeon & Gastoenterologist, based in India and I do hope it could be beneficial to the public.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of
entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat.

In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost
impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with
H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections,some very simple steps - not fully highlighted in most official communications - can be
practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1
takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show
characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc/bioflavonoids to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much
less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.

I do hope, this information could be passed on to one and all, for a healthy and H1N1 free environment.


Anonymous said...

Well, it looks like the elected goverment is too busy with the by election that they simply don't care that 67 people have died due to H1N1. Up untill know, I don't know what is the Health Ministry plans to contain this disease. This are example of supposedly elected MPs and Minister's who believe that 67 death so what, this are isolated cases. Malaysian figures are lower then those in UK and China, so no need to worry .Try telling that those who have lost their loved ones.

I happen to be a citizen who does not see the goverment doing anything to contain the risk of H1N1 infection. Their too busy bickering with the opposition.

Anonymous said...

Just blame on your government if someone dear to you dies..

Look at what kind of measure have been taken since DAY 1? Talk, Talk and more talk... no action!! Yeah you might say they are doing their best.. Are they?? They should have done better.. Some tips to the government from me, a layman:

1) Distribute free mask at public places (don't tell me it's a waste of public fund, since muhyiddin also use public fund to pay for the fuel using the government chopper)

2) Create public awareness or booth or roadshows to educate the public

3) Create booth for swap test apart from Gov Hospital for easier excess to such facilities (alot of complains have been recorded from public that they are being turn down of their request to get a test, please act before it's too late)

They are busy 'studying' whether or not to implement the 'no-race indication' on official gov forms..

Viva Malaysia
Niamah AMNO

Anonymous said...


Surgical masks do not prevent infection of AH1N1.

Kindly report this in The Star.


Anonymous said...

Our government are like the proverbial ostriches who stick their heads in the sand when there is danger and bad news that they don't want to see, instead of actively doing something about it.
If the air quality is bad, they tell the media not to publish the air quality index.
If the H1N1 situation is getting worse, they tell the media not to downplay the news.
When the whole world was going into recession, and Malaysia was obviously heading that direction, they told the country that Malaysia will not be affected.
Where do we have such narrow and weak minded people running the country? Are the ruling party so short on talent? Or are the talented people all sidelined and gagged?
As for H1N1, what is the health minister doing about it?
*Are there going to be more temperature screening stations at crowded places?
*Should all patients and health workers wear masks? At least to protect the health workers!!!
*Should people with flu get fined for not doing a self imposed quarantine?
*Should employers be fined for not sending home any worker with flu like symptoms?
What is our health ministry doing?