Why delay news of rabies death in Sibu? SUPP Youth asks MOH

SUPP Youth chief Michael Tiang questioned the Health Ministry for the delay of 10 days in making public the death of a 16-year old girl in Sarawak from rabies infection. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
SUPP Youth chief Michael Tiang questioned the Health Ministry for the delay of 10 days in making public the death of a 16-year old girl in Sarawak from rabies infection. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

SIBU, Nov 22 — Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth today questioned the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the delay of 10 days in making public the death of a 16-year old girl in Sarawak from rabies infection.

Its chief Michael Tiang said the delay has caused anxiety among the people in Sibu town, with some spreading unverified news of widespread rabies cases in certain areas in the town.

“MOH should be quick to provide the Sarawak authorities and public with the latest updates on rabies, like the way it does in sharing information on Covid-19 pandemic,” he said when commenting on the death of the girl.

She died on November 11 at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) in Kuching, but her death was only made public yesterday.

Tiang said MOH should take note that it is very critical for agencies like the Sibu Municipal Council, Public Health Department and state Veterinary Services Department to obtain first-hand information on rabies cases in order to take immediate and necessary action in response to any reported rabies cases.

“If the information can be disseminated by the MOH to those relevant authorities fast and efficiently, I believe we not only can stop the spread of the disease quickly but also the unverified news that has caused anxiety,” he said.

He said Sibu Municipal Council, despite their dog unit catching an average of 120 dogs per month and its private contractors catching about 20 a month, there are still many stray dogs or unattended dogs roaming out in Sibu town and its residential areas.

Tiang also called on the owners not to let their pets roaming freely in the street, but to confine the animals within their house compounds to curb the spread of rabies.

In a statement yesterday, the Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed that the girl to be infected with the rabies virus through laboratory tests conducted by the Institute of Medical Research on November 12.

She was admitted to SGH on November 10 after having a fever for three days, weakness in the lower limbs, and showing aggressive behaviour and died at 3.45pm yesterday, the sixth person to have succumbed to the disease this year.

Investigations have found that the girl had no history of being bitten by a dog or other animal, but only had a scratch mark on her right leg that her family members could not give details about.

The family had four cats and a dog, all of them had never been vaccinated before.  

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