MOH says S'pore faces low health risk from Malaysia's first imported H7N9 bird flu case

Live poultry for sale on a street in Shanghai on Jan 8, 2014. The public health risk to Singaporeans remains low despite Malaysia's first imported case of the H7N9 avian flu virus in Sabah, Singapore's Health Ministry (MOH) said on Thursday. -- FILE
Live poultry for sale on a street in Shanghai on Jan 8, 2014. The public health risk to Singaporeans remains low despite Malaysia's first imported case of the H7N9 avian flu virus in Sabah, Singapore's Health Ministry (MOH) said on Thursday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

The public health risk to Singaporeans remains low despite Malaysia's first imported case of the H7N9 avian flu virus in Sabah, Singapore's Health Ministry (MOH) said on Thursday.

"Our hospitals remain vigilant to test for H7N9 and other avian influenza where clinically indicated, such as in patients with serious respiratory illness and a compatible travel history," it said in a statement.

All suspected and confirmed cases will be isolated, while close contacts of confirmed cases will be put under surveillance. MOH added that health advisories are in place at Singapore's immigration checkpoints for people travelling to or from affected areas.

Malaysia had confirmed its first imported case of the H7N9 virus on Wednesday after a Chinese tourist visiting Kota Kinabalu in Sabah had tested positive. China is one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.

There is currently no evidence that the virus can be transmitted between humans. H7N9 in humans is typically caused by exposure to infected poultry, dead or alive.

The MOH has advised the public to avoid contact with poultry and birds if visiting affected areas and to wash their hands with soap if contact is made. It also advised people not to consume undercooked meat and eggs.

Those who become ill with fever or cough after visiting affected areas should wear a mask, seek medical attention promptly and let a doctor know of their travel history.

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