Dept Keeps Eye Out After New Health Scare

FRANKIE POON

SANDAKAN: Health officials in the state have been put on notice after a confirmed case of bubonic plague surfaced in northern China.

It was reported that the patient was diagnosed with the disease after consuming marmot meat.

Health and People’s Well-being Minister Datuk Frankie Poon said he had learned of the plague from media reports but had yet to receive any detailed information.

He has however asked state Health Director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi to thoroughly monitor the development and analyse the situation.

This includes looking into preparations that have to be made if necessary following the state government’s plan to welcome international arrivals from Sept 1.

Poon stressed that the state government would be extra vigilant when the tourism sector reopens as the health of the people remains its top priority.

“We also cannot continue to shut the tourism industry which has caused several hotels and business here to close shop,” he told reporters after officiating at the Covid-19 Assistance for Single Mothers ceremony here, today.

For illustration purpose only.

“I have therefore asked the director to look into the plague development on whether it is worrying and the sort of preparations we have to make.”

According to the World Health Organisation, the disease, which is caused by bacterial infection, can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated on time.

Typically transmitted from animals to humans by fleas, symptoms of the plague include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin.

Poon assured the government would not take health issues lightly and would ensure more stringent health screening is conducted on foreigners entering the state.

On a related matter, he said the government would continue to provide polio vaccines to students once schools reopen.

He disclosed that polio cases remained at four involving a three-month-old baby, and children aged three, eight and 11.

“The immunisation programmes had to be halted to make way for the movement control order (MCO) that went into effect in March.

“We have discussed with public and private schools and asked for their cooperation, such as providing hall facilities (for the prorgramme) and ensuring students are present during the vaccination,” he said.