Tuesday October 25, 6:17 PM
Public urged not to stock up on anti-viral drugs
The Health Ministry is urging the public not to stock up on anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza.
That's because such drugs could be less effective at treating bird flu if they are used indiscriminately now.
Singapore is among many countries around the world stockpiling anti-viral drugs in case the bird flu virus mutates and spreads through humans.
But if the public uses the drugs indiscriminately, the virus could develop resistance leaving no treatment for a flu pandemic.
The Health Ministry says it is not necessary for people travelling to countries with bird flu outbreaks to stock up on the anti-viral drugs, because human infections are still rare at this time.
Cases of bird flu have been discovered in poultry in Asian countries such as Indonesia and China, as well as Turkey, Greece and Russia in Europe.
The advice for travellers is to avoid contact with poultry and wild birds, and to stay away from farms and markets selling live birds.
Poultry and eggs should also be thoroughly cooked before they are eaten, so there's no blood in the meat, and egg yolks are solid.
Singapore began preparing for a flu pandemic earlier this year and has a colour-coded warning system in place.
At present, it's on green alert because the disease is overseas and limited to birds and some humans who were in close contact with them.
For now, the government is monitoring the bird flu situation.
If the outbreak worsens and human-to-human transmission occurs overseas or in Singapore, the colour will darken and measures will become more stringent.
At certain stages, these would include precautions taken during SARS such as daily temperature screening in schools and monitoring at airports.
At the black level, infection and death rates from flu would be exceedingly high and emergency measures such as curfews would be necessary to bring the outbreak under control.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is also urging people to go for flu vaccinations as the seasonal flu outbreak approaches in the Northern Hemisphere.
It recommends jabs for people aged 65 years and older as well as patients with chronic heart and lung diseases, diabetes or renal disease.
Pregnant women in their second or third trimester are also encouraged to get vaccinated.
Those travelling to colder climates are advised to obtain the latest flu vaccine at least one to two weeks before departure. - CNA/ir