Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prevention, preparedness the best ways to fight H1N1 outbreak


Channel NewsAsia - Wednesday, May 13
 

SINGAPORE : A World Health Organisation (WHO) expert has said Singapore should not be alarmed when Influenza A (H1N1) arrives on our shores.

Instead, be personally prepared by observing good hygiene and staying away from crowds when you are sick.

That is the simple prescription given by Professor Arthur Reingold, who spoke to Channel NewsAsia through a webcast on Tuesday.

The World Health Organisation's pandemic alert level is at Phase 5 — one level before declaring a pandemic has arrived. Under Phase 5, a community level outbreak occurs on a second continent.

Meanwhile, a pandemic is characterised by more widespread human—to—human transmission, and until a vaccine is developed in four to six months, there is no immunity to it.

Professor Reingold, who is a consultant to the WHO on the flu pandemic, said that when the first H1N1 patient arrives in Singapore, he or she should be isolated and given Tamiflu immediately.

He said: "I don't think that one should be alarmed, in terms of the potential consequences, with what the current virus is doing. I think it is however prudent to be prepared in case this virus becomes more dangerous. The virus, for example, stays pretty much for what it is. It causes influenza similar to...the viruses that cause the annual epidemics."

And so like any other flu, deaths have occurred from complications resulting from it — such as a bacterial infection developing into pneumonia.

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So the same groups, like the very young, elderly and immune—compromised, are susceptible.

For the rest, it still boils down to good social responsibility.

Professor Reingold said: "The recommendation is you should cough into your elbow and not into your hand. We want people who are sick to stay at home, and not be in school or work, coughing and sneezing at other people or at subways. 

These are some things we refer to as social distancing, that are undoubtedly the recommendations as they are elsewhere. Some people also believe that handwashing may reduce the influenza virus. In some circumstances, masks may help."

Singapore's stand has been that it is not a matter of "if" but "when" H1N1 will arrive on our doorstep. The strategy is to delay that eventuality, for as long as possible. — CNA/ms


From Yahoo! News; see the source article here.
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