Thursday, August 27, 2009

A (H1N1): Transport operators lukewarm to guidelines

KUALA LUMPUR: Passengers using public transports claimed that operators were not taking adequate precautionary measures to contain Influenza A(H1N1) that has so far claimed 71 lives.

A commuter, Khairul Amri Khairuddin, 32, said that whenever he traveled by bus or the light rail transit (LRT), he was worried that someone on board could be infected with the flu.

"It is just like a time bomb as other passengers are exposed to the flu," he told Bernama.

He said operators also did not provide surgical masks to passengers and did not sanitise the buses.

Aiza Amiruddin, 22, suggested that transport operators provide anti-bacterial soaps or hand sanitisers for passengers to wash their hands.

"LRT operators should ensure that toilets at LRT stations are always clean and adequate bins are provided for commuters," she said.

Ismail Haron, 62, said he wondered whether bus drivers were briefed on the pandemic and on ways to stop swine flu from spreading.

"They have not been wearing surgical masks while some of the buses are so dirty," he said, adding that the Health Ministry should enforce the guidelines for transport operators.

The ministry has posted the guidelines for the transportation industry on its website specifying measures on board, the need to maintain good ventilation in vehicles, ensuring the cleanliness of vehicle compartments and advice to passengers.

It said, where possible, announcement should be made on board (train and bus) for passengers with the symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1) to identify themselves.

Open the windows whenever possible to ensure good ventilation, it said, adding that for closed vehicle compartments, clean the air-conditioning system frequently to maintain a clean environment.

The ministry stated that vehicle compartments (surfaces, door handles, railings) must be kept clean and they should be washed or wiped with diluted sodium hypochlorite (bleach) regularly.

It said tissue paper and vomit bags should be made available for passengers' use when necessary.

If vehicle compartments are contaminated with vomits or other body fluids, they must be washed or wiped with diluted sodium hypochlorite immediately, it added.

Passengers are advised to observe personal hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water and avoid touching their eyes and nose.

It said they must cover their nose and mouth with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. - The Star

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