Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Smokers in high-risk group

By Annie Freeda Cruez

KUALA LUMPUR: Smokers with influenza A (H1N1) suffer more severe symptoms and complications, and have a higher mortality rate than non-smokers. They have been placed in the high-risk category for the H1N1 virus.

Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said smokers should take precautions to prevent infection.

"Quit smoking, as it's one of the best preventive measures against H1N1."

This would reduce their risk of contracting the disease, and a healthier lifestyle would improve their health, he said.

He said second-hand smoke also caused serious health complications to non-smokers.

Dr Ismail said all Ma-laysians, irrespective of whe-ther they were in the high-risk group or not, should heed the ministry's advice and remain home if they were ill and practise the cough-and-sneeze etiquette to prevent infection or the transmission of the disease to others.

"We are concerned about the local transmission of influenza A. This is because some people are not following our advice to stay home when ill and to wear a mask in public if they must go out."

Those with flu-like symptoms must reduce outside activities, especially shopping, as this was the peak shopping period for Hari Raya, he added.

"We need the public's cooperation to reduce or contain local transmissions of H1N1."

Yesterday, 228 people were admitted to hospital with influenza-like-illness (ILI), and 248 others were discharged.

There are now 1,283 people with ILI in 96 public and private hospitals nationwide. Of these, 214 have been diagnosed with H1N1.

"Forty-eight are in intensive care, and 29 high-risk patients have complications."

Seven children under 5 years old and 11 with chronic illnesses are among those in intensive care. No new deaths have been reported.

As of Aug 30, the World Health Organisation recorded 246,221 confirmed cases with 2,958 deaths in 182 countries.

WHO said these figures may not reflect the actual situation as there were cases of H1N1 infections and deaths that had not been reported. - NST

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