Gov’t will ‘take action ahead of time’ to tackle spread of Zika

, National 2 minutes, 43 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE health minister has reassured the public that the government will “take action ahead of time” to tackle the spread of Zika infections, and will not let the virus “distract” the country from combating chronic diseases.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said the government will keep up-to-date with anything happening in the region that will likely affect Brunei. “If we foresee a risk of something happening, we will know and we will take action ahead of time,” he said on the sidelines of the National Disaster Council Meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.

To date, the country has not reported any Zika cases but he said Brunei needs to be alert due to the outbreak in neighbouring countries.

The minister reiterated that travellers returning from Zika-affected countries need to seek medical attention once they show symptoms of Zika.

YB Dato Dr Hj Zulkarnain added it is important not to get distracted with the virus to ensure Brunei is safe. “This (Zika virus infection) is very important no doubt, but there are other important things like non-communicable diseases (obe-sity, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer).

“These are (diseases) that unfortunately will kill you too, more so than Zika,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Zulkarnain also talked about combating dengue.

“One of the messages that was clear from the meeting was that although Zika is important, we must be aware that it’s dengue that kills. We must not forget dengue. Dengue is with us now.

“Fortunately, over the last two years, the trend of dengue has been going down. This is a reflection of a number of things. Maybe cleanliness is improving because people are more responsible. There are issues with climate change as well,” he added.

The minister said His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office’s sabda during the meeting was farsighted in mentioning the importance of good communication, collaboration as well as public education.

He said public response to preventing Zika had been positive and urged the public to keep the momentum going.

“We want to create this awareness movement among people. But it has to be responsible communication, what we don’t want is that people will respond or act to things based on unfounded rumours. The people have the responsibility to ensure our country is safe, clean and free from diseases,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Zulkarnain went on to say that the Multisectoral Task Force for the Prevention and Control of Zika Virus Disease, which was set up on September 1, held weekly meetings as part of plans to prevent, detect and control the infections.

“The whole idea of this task force is that we meet on a weekly basis and get situational updates,” he said.

The task force — comprising the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Centre, as well as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade — was set up to oversee all national preventive actions to prevent, detect and control the disease.

Members of public can obtain information about Zika virus through Talian Darussalam 123 and the Ministry of Health’s website.

The Brunei Times