CM urges caution on flu amid school’s closure
Published on: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
By: Neil Chan, Iffah Dilaney
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KOTA KINABALU: The public are advised to be prepared and take precautionary steps to prevent the spread of the H1N1 Influenza A virus.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said precautions should be taken not only at school level but at home. “We need to have precautions, we know that in a changing environment there are a variety of contagious health conditions, so we need to be prepared. 

“All parties need to play their role i.e. the health authorities, schools, families to ensure we keep our families healthy and to avoid exposure to such diseases. 

“The Sabah government will try its level best to address the matter together with the health authorities,” he said, when asked about the closure of Stella Marris National School in Tanjung Aru earlier after six pupils were suspected of having the H1N1 virus after the handing over on Tuesday of Chinese lion heads to 23 Sabah Chinese Associations (west coast) in conjunction with the Chinese New Year Celebrations at the PKNS building foyer. 

State Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Frankie Phoon, when met, said the H1N1 cases where six primary school pupils were affected were not serious and that the closure was only a preventive measure.

“The school was closed down at the direction of the Kota Kinabalu Health Office but is not a serious issue. There are many steps we can take and this is just one of them. 

“Perhaps due to the Chinese New Year, we just want to make sure this does not spread,” he said. Asked if it was necessary then to close the school, Poon said in his opinion it was not necessary. 

“Action was taken by the person in charge but we have no issue with that. There are of course many ways to respond, but they chose this way to do it.”

Asked about the public’s concern over the supply of the H1N1 vaccine at a private clinic that is said to be out of date, Phoon said new vaccine stocks were still coming in.

He said the vaccines were quickly depleted due to high demand, but new stock was being resupplied.

State Health Director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi when met at the event said there was no need for the public to worry the school closure as the State Health Authorities were monitoring the situation. 

“Regarding the school closure matter, I was made to understand the action was taken because of pressure from the school’s Parents Teachers Association. 

“We normally close a school if it was (determined to be) a source of infection. So in this case the matter was decided by the district authorities themselves. 

“In the future we will look at the criteria required before such action can be done.”

Meanwhile, no case of a H1N1 outbreak was reported in Labuan, according to Labuan Health director Dr Ismuni Bohari. He said latest updates on the influenza can be found on the Ministry’s website and any official announcement will be made by the Ministry or the Health DG himself.

There were speculations of a school, SJK (C) Chi Wen, in Labuan being ordered to close down due to the H1N1 outbreak. The speculation was spread is social media platform following the news of closure of SK Stella Maris) in Sabah.

SJK Chi Wen principal, Pan Yii Yng, when contacted by Daily Express, denied the claim. There had been no cases of infected students and the schooling session will continue as usual.

“Our school will only be closing for the Chinese New Year holidays beginning this Thursday,” she clarified. 


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