In view of the increasing numbers of H1N1 cases, Universiti sains Malaysia (USM) is taking preventive measures.
The public, especially the USM community can obtain information regarding the Influenza virus H1N1 through two hotlines, that is, 04 653 4948 and 04 653 4938. The 24 hour hotlines will operate from the Health Centre, USM. In fact, the USM Health Centre has been operating 24 hours since the end of last month when registration began for the new students.
According to the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Omar Osman, USM is providing this service in view of the fact that some of the participants at the Asia Pacific Regional Symposium (APPS 2009) held in one of the hotels in Penang from 26 June till 1 July 2009 were confirmed positive for the H1N1 flu virus last week.
International participants of the Symposium were taken to Penang Hospital when they complained of fever and flu.
The Symosium was attended by more than 167 participants, mostly students studying Pharmaceutical Sciences from countries including Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. Approximately 120 USM students were involved as organizers of the Symposium.
“As a preventive measure, all USM students who were involved in the Symposium have been contacted and 48 of the students have been isolated and 7 have been quarantined,” Prof. Omar said.
All the Pharmacy students who wereinvolved have been contacted and they have been asked not to return to campus and to remain quarantined at home to overcome the problem.
They have been granted permission by USM to only return to their studies on 13 July 2009. The university is taking the necessary efforts to reschedule their timetable including those for the practicals and core papers to fulfil the requirements for graduation.
All actions that have so far been taken have been carried out with the advice and supervision of the authorities at the Ministry of Health, Penang and the Minisy of Higher Education in accordance with eah procedure that has been laid out.
“These actions are important and act as preventive measures to ensure that no infections occur in campus,” explained Prof. Omar.
USM has issued a reminder to everone in campus to be careful and to postpone any trips overseas especially to countries that are directly involved.
Students planning to go overseas on exchange programmes to certain countries too have been advised to be cautious.
USM has also opened up special counters to provide information and advice to students who have visited the Health Centre or the USM Clinic for treatment especially those who have early symptoms of H1N1.
New students who have been on campus since last week and seniors who have just returned to campus yesterday were given a briefing on how to take care of themselves in order to prevent being infected. Students who stay off-campus have also been similarly adviced.
“We give the assurance that the campus is still safe and we have no intentions of postponing classes and other programmes. Moreover, the Ministry of Health, Malaysia is constantly monitoring the situation and has advised that all lectures and activities go on as usual,” said Prof. Omar.
Prof. Omar denied a report in a local daily stating that the USM campus has been closed due to the H1N1 virus.
He clarified that only certain lectures for courses in Pharmaceutical Sciences have been postponed. This was because all the students who were involved in organizing the APPC were unable to attend lectures and USM has made the necessary changes according to the flexi system that has been in practice all this while.
The Acting Vice-Chancellor also thanked everyone, especially the Malaysian Ministry of Health, Penang; Ministry of Higher Education; and all the departments in the USM campus that have worked hard to ensure that the health of the students and the campus community is not only protected but also to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus.