15 August 2009

Where are H1N1 clusters in Malaysia?

Govt to weigh pros and cons of H1N1 disclosure (theStar, 15 Aug 2009)
PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will meet with Health Ministry officials to discuss if there is a need to disclose to the public the specific areas where many influenza A(H1N1) cases have been reported.
Muhyiddin said there was a need to look into whether providing such information to the public would be beneficial or would cause panic.
Furthermore, he said, even if the affected areas were disclosed, it did not mean that those in other areas could let their guard down and stop taking the necessary precautions.
“We have passed the containment stage and are currently in the mitigation stage.
“The percentage (of the spread of the flu) is still small, but it is still worrying and should not be taken lightly because it is life-threatening,” he told a press conference here after launching the Crime Prevention Campaign here yesterday.
He was responding to a call by Pahang Regent Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah for the Government to make known the stage the country was in due to the spread of the flu so that people would know the severity of the situation.

In this age where the dissemination of correct information is important and crucial, I believe that the govt should in fact be upfront about where clusters of local transmissions of H1N1 are. The official line used is that the govt does not want to create panic. Let's face it, the information will get out, sooner or later, and if not via official govt disclosure, it will be through the grapevine, word of mouth, sms blasts or email circulation.

Responsible and official disclsoure will serve as a caution for people not to visit the affected areas if there is no necessity for the public to go there. Would the govt knowingly want Malaysians to go to affected areas and increase the risk of exposure and further transmissions? Remember all the criticism directed towards China for their opaque and belated communications regarding SARS?

I hope Tan Sri Muyyiddin will make the appropriate decision. Thank you, Regent of Pahang, for the suggestion.

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