By Annie Freeda Cruez
KUALA LUMPUR: Many Malaysians with flu-like symptoms are ignoring the Health Ministry's advice to wear a face mask in public.
Health officials all over the country have fanned out to check on compliance and, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, many people with flu-like symptoms were seen in shopping complexes, roadside stalls and other public places without face masks or using a tissue to cover the mouth when coughing and sneezing.
"Every day, we repeat that influenza A spreads mainly through coughing or sneezing.
"Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw it in the trash bin after use," he said.
"Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze, or use hand sanitisers."
Dr Ismail's advice to anyone with flu-like symptoms is to stay home, take their medication and keep away from others as much as possible.
He said people should avoid crowds and practise social distancing.
Parents must take precautions when taking their babies and children out, and they must monitor students in view of the upcoming Penilaian Menengah Rendah examinations.
"If you have a severe illness or any of the warning signs such as breathing difficulties, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, disorientation and vomiting, go to the nearest hospital."
He said those with chronic and underlying diseases must take anti-viral drugs to avoid complications.
Some 150,000 Malaysians are said to be infected with H1N1, with almost 90 per cent recovering with or without medication.
More than 7,000 people had to be hospitalised because of existing health conditions and complications. The death toll stands at 75.
Yesterday, another 87 patients were admitted to hospital with influenza-like-illnesses and 160 were discharged.
There are 1,238 people with influenza-like-illnesses in 106 public and private hospitals nationwide. Of these, 264 have been diagnosed with H1N1.