Some hospitals in Malaysia running out of flu medication

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The growing number of cases of Influenza A has seen several schools in Penang and the Klang Valley closing, with stocks of medication to fight the virus running low.

At least 53 people had been infected in Penang and 23 in Selangor as of yesterday morning, and some hospitals have turned away patients, with the authorities advising bed rest at home.

Of the cases in Selangor – reported in Cyberjaya and Klang – only two of them were warded.

“They need good rest. They will recover. If we admit everyone to public hospitals, others may be infected too,” Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye was reported as saying by news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

However, he said there is enough influenza medicine in public healthcare centres, while some private hospitals need to replenish their stocks after the surge in flu cases following an outbreak in China last month.

Malaysia’s director-general of health Noor Hisham Abdullah has also explained that there is no issue with the supply of oseltamivir, more commonly known as Tamiflu.

However, demand surged last month, so private healthcare providers would have to import the drug themselves instead of relying on the existing supply brought in by the government.

There was previously no request by private players for the import of Tamiflu from January to November last year.

But news site Malaysiakini reported paediatrician Musa Nordin as saying his hospital in Kuala Lumpur was “down to our last 100 boxes, while others (have) even less”.

“Supplies are not expected until the end of January or February,” he said.

The Education Ministry has advised parents not to let their sick children go to school, but to seek professional medical attention.

FMT also reported that several private hospitals in the Klang Valley had run out of beds after seeing a surge in influenza cases, and were focusing on outpatient treatment, except in cases when symptoms become more severe.

Penang’s education department has said it will take proactive measures to control the spread of cases there, including the distribution of face masks in schools.

Datuk Noor Hisham had said last week that tests showed the influenza viruses were not mutations or new strains, and that the number of cases was still in the normal range.

He also advised the public, especially high-risk groups such as young children, the elderly, the pregnant and those with existing health conditions, to get flu vaccinations. –THE MALAYA POST

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