LABUAN – The Labuan Health Department has stepping up health screening initiatives at entry points to the duty-free-island as a precautionary measure to prevent the Zika outbreak.
Its acting director Dr Zaki Ab Hamid said health screening was implemented at the Labuan International Ferry Terminal which caters for direct trips from Kota Kinabalu, districts in the interior division of Sabah; Sipitang, Beaufort and Menumbok, from Brunei and Limbang, Sarawak.
“Similar health screening has also been implemented at the Labuan Airport where direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Miri land,” he said in an interview with RTM Labuan and Bernama, here today.
Zaki advised expatriates from oil and gas and Malaysian workers who have travelled to Singapore or to Zika-affected-countries and having fever or other symptoms to go for immediate medical examination and treatment.
“At these entry points, we are giving Health Alert Cards to visitors exhibiting signs of Zika and pamphlets to travelers about prevention against Zika infection and as a precautionary measure.
“We have stationed our healthcare personnel at the ferry terminal and airport to monitor the inflow of visitors to the island. We must always take extra precaution as there were four Zika cases recorded across the country.
“Although Labuan has yet to record any Zika case, it does not mean we will be free from the virus as we can get infected anytime if our surrounding have mosquito breeding grounds,” he said.
Zaki said Zika virus is not something recent but it has been in the country all the time.
“As such, we have reminded private clinics to report Zika-related cases to the Health Department to help minimise the outbreak,” he said.
Zaki also reminded members of the public to install screens (mosquito preventive nets) on their windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering their house.
Meanwhile, according to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Enthomologist Professor Dr Chua Tock Hing, as reported in a local daily, Zika is an old virus that was first discovered in Uganda in 1947, Nigeria in 1952 and later in Peninsular Malaysia in Bentong, Pahang in 1966.
He said the recent case involving a Sabahan contracting the virus (despite not having travelled overseas) was further proof that it has always been in the country.