PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia has recorded its first influenza A (H1N1) related death from a local transmission, signalling a worsening of the situation in the country.
The 42-year-old man, who died on Monday, was the third death caused by the virus.
Two earlier deaths were linked to imported cases involving a 46-year-old Malaysian man who worked in Belgium, who died last Sunday and a 30-year-old Islamic finance student from Indonesia who died on July 21.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the third victim was reported to have died of severe pneumonia with multi-organ failure at 4.40pm on Monday after being treated for 10 days in a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
He said the victim had received outpatient treatment from several private clinics and hospitals since July 6 before being referred and admitted to the private hospital on July 18.
"He was diagnosed as suffering from diabetes mellitus and chest X-ray showed that he also had pneumonia," he told a press conference yesterday.
Liow said the victim was transferred to the intensive care unit after suffering breathing difficulties and requiring a ventilator but his condition continued to deteriorate.
A throat swab taken on July 22 confirmed that the man was H1N1 positive.
"The swab was taken very late on July 22. All three victims died in the hospitals and now we've found out that the treatment came to them very late. I'm very concerned."
Liow said he had directed all private clinics and hospitals to be more vigilant and to be on high alert as well as have the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu, to handle the H1N1 cases.
"Everyone must be responsible. We are already at level six. If you have flu and cough, take it seriously," he said, adding that the death risk for those infected with H1N1 was 0.4% to 0.5%.
He advised the public to wear masks, take care of their personal hygiene and to practice social distancing if they were having sore throat and cough.
He said those with flu-like symptoms must go to the hospital and if confirmed to have the H1N1, to take Tamiflu.
Asked whether local users had suffered side-effects after taking Tamiflu as experienced by some foreign users, Liow said: "No. Not in Malaysia.
"At the early stage, the Health director-general had warned the public not to simply take Tamiflu. Take it only when you have the symptoms."
He also said 95 new local H1N1 cases were reported yesterday making the total number thus far to 1,219.
Of the figure, 53% or 645 are local infections while 47% or 574 are imported cases.
"Local transmission cases have exceeded imported cases. Our local infections is spreading so fast throughout the country with 19 new clusters. This is a bad sign," Liow said. -The Star/ANN