Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Riau officers tired of checking for H1N1

Officers monitoring arrival gates at airports and harbours in Riau have said they are tired from checking the temperature of incoming visitors, done in an effort to prevent the spread of the H1NI virus, despite the Health Ministry's call to continue doing so.

The problem was revealed during a national meeting on the dissemination of Influenza A (H1N1) virus, held by the Health Ministry in Batam on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by heads of hospitals across the country that were recently appointed as referral hospitals for the virus.

Head of the Riau Islands Health Agency Munzir Purba disclosed the officers had to work from morning until 8 p.m., checking about 20,000 visitors entering the country from Singapore and Malaysia in five seaports and an airport in Batam, as well as a seaport in Karimun and two seaports on Bintan Island.

"The officers are very tired of checking the temperature of the visitors. We think that the action is no longer effective," Munzir said.

He said checking the temperature e of the visitors at the arrival gates was no longer effective because the H1N1 virus had spread across the country.

Responding to the problem, director general of the Health Ministry's Medical Services, Farid Husein, said the checking must continue.

"But the officers could do it in shifts, to avoid fatigue," Farid.

He said the World Health Organization had not set a standard for the number of patients needed for a country to be categorized as affected by the H1N1 pandemic.

So far, there have been about 400 H1N1 cases recorded in Indonesia, including three that were fatal.

Meanwhile, Widjajanti Utojo, head of the Dr. Slamet General Hospital in Garut, West Java, said many patients possibly infected with H1N1 could not be bothered to wait for the results of their tests.

"Many patients escape from the hospital while waiting for the results," Widjajanti said. She said her hospital had treated 60 people suspected of carrying the virus, but said only six were declared positive.

Similarly, head of medical services at Bali's Sanghlah Hospital, I Gusti Lanang Suartana, said many foreign patients became angry when they were forced to stay for six days in the in the hospital's isolation room. "Many foreign patients get angry because of that, but it will continue as there is no solution from the ministry," Suartana said.

Director of medical services at the Health Ministry, Marwan Nusri, said the laboratory testing should be conducted centrally, in Jakarta.

"It's not about the lack of equipment. But we have to do the test carefully," Marwan said.

He disclosed each test costs the central government Rp 4 million (US$400).

From Jakarta Post

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